Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Personal Connection

When you learn about the Great Lakes in school, teachers often use the mnemonic device HOMES to help remember the names of the lakes, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. The order of that little memory jogger has no relationship to any properties of the lakes, such as depth, size or location. It’s just a way to remember their names.

Scientists often think of Lakes Michigan and Huron as one body of water because they are about the same elevation and are connected by a strait. Their water patterns are similar, too. When you look at a map of the Great Lakes, that connection is easy to see. There is another connection via the land mass known as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. To most of us, it is surprising that the UP is part of the state of Michigan rather than Wisconsin, especially the western part of the UP where there are more Packers fans than Lions fans. That’s no surprise, especially this year.

This morning I have a more personal connection between these two lakes on my mind. Until a last winter, our son, Ben, lived here in Kenosha on the shores of Lake Michigan. Two months ago, he moved to St. Clair Shores, Michigan, very close to Lake Huron. A few days ago, he drove from Lower Michigan, over the Straits of Mackinac Bridge, to the UP where he and his companion visited her family and where she grew up. On Monday they drove south through Wisconsin to Kenosha. Early this morning, they left here to drive across Michigan back home. As I write, they are somewhere mid-state, completing their circle tour.

Ben drove part of this route about a month ago when he came back to Wisconsin to take care of some personal business. That day he left here in perfectly clear weather, but was caught in lake effect snow in Indiana and had to stop overnight. What should have been a six hour ride, became an over night trip. So today, even though it is clear and sunny here (bitter cold, too, I might add) I will worry until I hear from them that they have reached home.

The lakes are connected by a strait and the landmasses by a bridge. I am connected by family. When I get the call that they are home safe and sound, we will be connected by phone. Strong connections all the way around. Someone might call it the circle of life tour. Sounds like a song, doesn’t it?

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