Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction

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pp. ix-xiv

...Zebra mussels were discovered in Lake St. Clair, a (very) wide spot in the river between Lakes Huron and Erie, in the late 1980s, right about the time I was admitting to the fact that South Florida’s Atlantic coast could not replace the Great Lakes’ shores as my home landscape. Scientists believe the mussels were probably dumped in ballast water from a cargo ship hailing from a freshwater port near the Caspian Sea. They’ve since spread...

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Homes

...date, etched into the stone. You’ll see places where the stonecarver’s tool slipped, places where the metal edge skritched out of control. You can touch these stones and wonder who they were meant for, wonder what stone rests upon what person now, wonder what date will be etched upon your own. Sometimes the lip of the water is dotted with dead fish, silvery...

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HOMES: Living with Lake Michigan

Judith Minty

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pp. 5-10

...as California and Alaska, my right hand now raised in greeting, palm out, life line, heart line, fate line, the mounts of Venus, Mars, and Jupiter exposed for any stranger to study. “Homes,” I say. “Mine.” I wave my left hand around its partner, pointing to where each inland sea might be as if the hand was actually Michigan and surrounded by water. I must have been nine when I first...

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Lake Erie as the Color of Hazel Eyes

Linda Nemec Foster

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pp. 11-12

...she’d be absent anyway. In the background, flat and looming, is the wide expanse of Lake Erie. From this photo’s vantage point—Sandusky, Ohio—you could never tell that Lake Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes. “Puny runt,” my Uncle Joe always called it. And in the middle of a hot summer, the lake was always warm—like bath water. For as long as I can remember...

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Freshwater

Sue William Silverman

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pp. 13-15

...No chance: for salty spindrifts, for the fury of hurricanes, for the scent of the exotic, the faraway. Rather, it is this Midwestern emptiness that feels foreign to me, a girl who once lived on tropical islands. I’m no longer a girl, but still I miss unruly liana vines, mimosa trees, fever grass, ginger flowers, vanilla pods. I crave volcanic mountains, the jungled clutter of rain forests. I want to be submerged in seawater, feel it tangle my hair. I moved here...

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Shiver Me Timbers

Sharon Dilworth

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pp. 16-21

...every window. We, the wait staff, wore nautically decorated aprons, and visors embroidered with anchors and winking pirates. Fresh oysters and lobsters were flown in from Boston once a week, confusing the customers who had grown up on locally caught whitefish and trout. “Where in the world did this come from?” They looked to the lake, then back at their pink lobster tails. Hot butter was served in little silver bowls that tipped over easily...

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Lake Effect

Linda Loomis

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pp. 22-25

...Everyone lift your left arm.” Pointing to someone in the front row, she showed us that our left arms were pointing west. She lifted the right arm. That was east. Behind us was south, and in front, north. We learned that another country, Canada, lay north, across the water, but the lake was so big we could not see it. Remembering, I am carried back to the years after World War II. I am six, perhaps seven. I have slept all night with...

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Finding My Way Home

Beth Ann Fennelly

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pp. 26-33

...These people have good haircuts. They’ve been color-analyzed, and they don’t wear autumn if they’re summer. I’m reminded of how in other parts of the country I’m considered pretty—in fact, when my fiancé brought me to his hometown in Alabama, I was pronounced “gorgeous.” But I’m not gorgeous; I just had the advantages of growing up on the...

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Dunetop Dying

Gayle Boss

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pp. 34-38

...the sand. And not the sand a stone’s throw from the hospital in Charlevoix. I want to die some two hundred shoreline miles south of my hometown, and on top of a dune, one particular dune, between Holland and Saugatuck. I was there yesterday. It’s what geologists call a “parabolic dune,” a huge crescent-shaped mound of sand, its arms reaching toward the lake. Over two hundred feet high, it is one of the tallest in a ridge of parabolic...

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Water Birds

Anne-Marie Oomen

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pp. 39-39

...high, but the temperature killed his lovely erection just like that. The lake can do that even to the most eager. Put you in your place. Women have it easier with the cold. Still, my nipples were so tight, it hurt when he kissed them. Some water plovers nest in a hollow on the cool sand, within reach of the waves—one reason they’re so rare. It takes a long time to warm a hollow. Like the lake, it holds cold as a self. I told my mother once that all her daughters...

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Chicago Waters

Susan Power

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pp. 40-46

...But which of my mother’s pronouncements to believe? That Chicago would swallow the Midwestern sea, smother it in concrete? Or that the lake wielded enough strength to out-politick even Mayor Richard J. Daley? Mayor Daley Sr. is gone now, but the lake remains, alternately tranquil and riled, changing colors like a mood ring. I guess we know who won. When my mother watches the water from her lakeside apartment building, she still sucks in her breath. “You have to respect the power...

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Trouble

...will fish until the sun becomes oppressive. I am three then, four at most—too innocent to protest a rope or whatever else would moor me to her, or to understand that, because she cannot swim, her fear of losing me gets complicated. Instead, I swirl my hand inside the bucket of minnows until I’m dizzy, and count the carp that flash and disappear like gold medallions...

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The Gray Lady of Lake Huron

Laura Kasischke

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pp. 49-58

...That man crossing the street in a black suit? He’s stepped out of the past, right into the path of my car. But instead of the weighted bump of a body on the hood, I pass through him, or he passes through me. Out of the fog and back into it in a heartbeat. And that church over there, all blond bricks and ghostly spires? It’s only nine o’clock in the morning on a Tuesday, but can that...

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Against the Law

Elizabeth A. Trembley

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pp. 59-65

...No matter what the season, I take the dogs to the Lake Michigan woods and beach—always unleashed and against the law. In winter, we celebrate free access to the lake’s openness, its rule of chaos and mystery, sometimes foaming, sometimes smooth, and we find relief from the constant contention for control that fills the human world. During the summer, when rangers riding screeching four-wheelers control the parks...

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Getting to Water

Claudia Skutar

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pp. 66-67

...I wanted to see, so I chose a small tree limb for a staff, cut away the leaves and twigs with a jackknife to smooth out the bark for my hand. Even though I was twelve, I was determined to walk by county road to Sturgeon Point, six miles south on the map from my family’s rented cottage between Black River and Harrisville on Huron’s shoreline. The point appeared on the map to jut out somewhat from the Michigan coast, and I thought...

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Lake Talk

Heather Sellers

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pp. 68-74

...It’s May, and hot in Michigan. Marianne and I hike the Livingston Trail, branch off to the ridge, and scoot down the dune to the beach, where we walk along the lake in the hard, flat wind. We’ve warmed up with the chitchat through the woods. By the time we hit the beach, the wind is strong, loud, and difficult. We’re at the secrets, the good stuff, the deep talk. My hand is a little visor. She’s yelling. “It was after I committed suicide,” Marianne...

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Water Lessons

Jacqueline Kolosov

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pp. 75-82

...shrubbery. As soon as I touched sand, my skin began to tingle, my shoulder blades loosened, and my whole being yearned for the water. The sun overhead, the scream of the gulls, the hot white sand, and the glittering awe of Lake Michigan—everything about that wide open space—claimed me. The beach was the one place where my sister and I had our mother all to ourselves. No one and nothing else could command her attention here. We’d line up our towels alongside hers, then...

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Elemental Fine

Leigh Allison Wilson

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pp. 83-90

...I first saw Lake Ontario on an April day in 1984, from the top of a hill on East Second Street in Oswego, New York. Down this street, crisscrossed with telephone wires upon which pigeons fornicated in large numbers, I could see a rectangle of dark, almost navy blue. I gasped when I saw it, as though the sight of the lake was itself an immersion. There are reasons for this. In East Tennessee, where I grew up, there was of course water. Lots of water. When the Tennessee...

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Gifts

...that the lake be big enough to stretch beyond our limits. Deirdre and I were capable of riffs, anger, contention, and any of that could be healed, was healed, leaving evidence, the smallest mental and physical scars of reunification, but the lake healed without seams, as if nothing had happened. Even frozen water butchered into cubes melted into one full glass, one unity of water. As ragged as the water became during storms...

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The Importance of Dunes

Annick Smith

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pp. 93-103

...All the summers of my childhood, I lived on the beaches of Lake Michigan. My second-story bedroom faced west, toward the lake. I slept with the sounds of waves lapping or waves crashing, waves roaring in the gusts and thunder of an electrical storm. There were gulls diving, and thin-legged sandpipers on the beach where I stood. When sky drops into lake and waves pull at your toes, any summer child knows she is on the...

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Aboard

Mary Blocksma

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pp. 104-109

...automated, and the light, once fueled with whale oil, is now electric, this one visible on clearer days fourteen miles over the lake. A radio beacon has replaced the foghorn. Nearby, a little road hugs a shore that soon narrows into a waterflanked ridge. I park there and emerge. On my right, Lake Ontario tosses large and restless. On my left, countless terns swoop...

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Walking the Lake’s Edge in Winter

Judith Arcana

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pp. 110-112

...lands; it just cuts, sharp and hard, slashed by the knife of the wind. Not everyone knows what Chicago winters do with the big lake; few walk the ice edge in early February. Lake Michigan is so big it rarely freezes over, and the wind in winter moves the water much as it does in the hot months, lifting it into waves as clear in their hearts of grey light as...

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Getting to the Point

Leslie Stainton

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pp. 113-118

...tenth-grade math teacher so much that I rejoiced when he kicked me out of class for an entire week after I’d insulted him. Geometry was different. Not that I got it, but at some antediluvian level I appreciated the possibilities. The shapes were beautiful, the words evocative. Polygon, hexagon, parallelogram, trapezoid. These summoned images of other worlds, South Sea islands, barbarous rites. Even...

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Leap

Anna Mills

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pp. 119-121

...her dark skin and her red-black dreadlocks. She grew up with a warm ocean, a kaleidoscope of fish. We arrived this morning in Bayfield, a flowery town on the south shore. I bought gumballs at an old-fashioned candy shop while Eve got coffee. We drove onto the ferry and climbed to the deck to watch flat water shining. The wake foamed and boiled, and Madeline Island moved closer—a forest lying on the water. Soon we drove off...

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Bodies of Water

Lisa Lenzo

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pp. 122-125

...until my mother and the other beachcombers turned into dots and disappeared. Trudging through water and sand, climbing over whole sideways forests of driftwood trees, I gazed at the sky and the gulf, listened to the crashing of the waves, and drifted into a reverie unlike any I had ever known. The boundaries between me and the water and...

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The Salmon

Loraine Anderson

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pp. 126-127

...British missiles were slamming Iraq. The U.S. House of Representatives was crashing against President Clinton, and the Ship of State was sinking fast. Mostly, though, it was the morning of my fiftieth birthday, and I needed to catch my breath. It had been one of those years. The walk down the beach was not to be, however, and neither was catching my breath, at least that’s how it seemed at first. The cold, harsh wind pummeled my back, whirled around in front of me...

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Surfin’ USA

Diane Wakoski

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pp. 128-132

...wrapping a towel around my arms, as well as covering my bare feet with sand. At sixty-three, and pale as a moonlight mushroom, I am paying the price for those years of trying to be a “California girl,” golden, tanned, and ripe looking. My very pale, dry skin that is thin and ages badly in every way seemed beautiful to me when I was young. One of the only beautiful things about me. When other teenagers had acne, I had skin like...

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Hunting the Moon

Gail Louise Siegel

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pp. 133-134

...murky skies. So I drive to a close, convenient spot—the big park two blocks from my house, with its soccer pitch and baseball fields, sledding hill, and schoolyard. It’s a promising, wide-open space. I pull into the lot. A boy is sliding into second base under the lights. I park facing east and ignore the giant fluorescent globes dangling over the game. There are scattered stars, streaks...

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Ghosts

...and the lake me. Even in storms they’d wrap me in cotton and wool, set me on shore: the excitement of a hunter’s moon, a beaver moon, on a midnight loud lake. The lake swallows lights and turns back stones and feathers and bones. When I was seven, an eight-point buck smashed out of a wave and ran a hand’s distance from all my surprise. Up the beach, partially covered in sand, a dead doe. The lake swallows lights and gives back deer. My parents...

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Manitou Passage

Gail Griffin

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pp. 137-143

...gearshift into first. As we rolled down the lane toward the camp entrance, most of us sank back into sleep, heads against our duffle bags. It seemed to take hours to get to Leland, but even as we pulled up to the dock, the air was just beginning to fade to the gray before dawn. By now we were mostly awake, stumbling off the bus, blinking and sniffing the...

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In the Apostle Islands

Judith Strasser

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pp. 144-145

...Two years ago, her second husband died. Lung cancer. “Love is so blind,” she says. “Until we were married, I never saw that he smoked.” She was a nurse in Chicagoland. She cared for him, changed his dressings, gave him back rubs until he died. “I loved that man dearly,” she tells me. “But Harold, forgive me, I’m glad you’re gone.” She lives in a lighthouse. No plumbing...

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Ripples of Azure and Grey, An Excerpt

Rachel Azima

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pp. 146-149

...more. During our drives up north, we’d talk about the searches to come. “I hope we find some trilobites!” I’d say, and my mom would agree. The Holy Grail of fossils, trilobites were rare in the Devonian rock we searched in. We knew it was unlikely that we would find one of these peculiar, ocean-dwelling creatures, the cousins of horseshoe crabs and sow bugs...

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The Souls of Trees

Susan Laidlaw

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pp. 150-155

...tamaracks and ferns, the darkness blackens into a shade impenetrable by my cone-laden eyes. There is no moon, and very little sky light makes it through the heavy canopy above. I am a human unhoused in the night without so much as a flashlight. My other senses automatically intensify. The thick scent of compost rises up from the forest floor, where broken oak leaves...

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Storm Light on Bois Blanc Island

Kathleen Stocking

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pp. 156-173

...just run into them again, walking along the shore with their little dog, Spike. Spike is making progress. The other three of us are barely holding our own. The wind is incredibly loud. The sound is like that of a train. Invisible. In the air. Bob McCoy is a stocky, curly haired, well-spoken, young-looking, and elegantly dressed man who says he has taken an...

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A Mother Reaches Satori on the Tenth Anniversary of Her Son’s Drowning in Lake Michigan

Rasma Haidri

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pp. 174-175

...cautious to be my boy: my lost-youth boy; my just-man, just-barely-grown boy; my climbing see-me-jump-Ma! see-how-high-I-am boy. It was a colder October, a dark-sky October, a wind-lifting October when the lake rose, the great lake heaved and sighed, and the hum of its turning sounded like song to your ears. The waves sung your name like love on the tongue, a song your soul was also singing...

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Lake Huron’s Tide

Rachael Perry

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pp. 176-180

...grandfather with me, two close family friends, my uncle if he wants to come, because we are all in this together and they can help me remember the way. We will choose the back roads out of Imlay City, a series of norths and easts that zigzag us past Decker and Argyle and Ubly, lonely roadside cemeteries and whitewashed Amish homes and cows. The wind will be...

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Uplake and Down

...openmouthed through the top of the swarm, gorging, wild-eyed and squawking. Mayflies are relics from another time, having outlived, as a species, their contemporaries and dodged extinction. How have they managed, food as they are for so many fish and birds? For a year they prepare for their brief emergence, when they molt to wings and fly. In a...

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The Kettle

Alison Swan

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pp. 183-195

...silver fish dart or hang among the stones and weeds. Most were eaten immediately. One managed to evade capture for several long moments. I silently rooted for it. I am not a lighthearted person; when a bass gobbled it up, my stomach lurched. “So I’m really going to do it. We’re not just going to talk about it. I’m going to go up there and get that kettle.” I was cheering...

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Reflections from a Concrete Shore

Donna Seaman

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pp. 196-205

...Poughkeepsie, New York, that violence, abuse of power, and display of hatred were all that I knew of Chicago, and it was enough to convince me that it was a place to avoid. Yet a decade later, after attending art school elsewhere in the Midwest, I loaded up a rental truck with my modest belongings and, accompanied by a big black and white cat, drove into that mean town, that checkerboard city, determined to make it my new...

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The Least Thing

Stephanie Mills

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pp. 206-212

...Only take as many as you need. If there aren’t enough little fish left in the lake to grow up, then in a year or so there won’t be any big fish to catch and eat.” Then a pathetic fallacy: “Try to imagine that those little fish—the fishes’ kids—have feelings just like yours.” Further research, however, disclosed that minnows aren’t juveniles but are small grownups. Even if, despite being a deepecological spinster, I am nonetheless a member of the...

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Amphibians, Reptiles, and Boats: Excerpts from a Naturalist’s Lake Huron Journals

Aleta Karstad

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pp. 213-218

...My husband Fred, our daughter Elsa, and I had lunch on Doctor Island off the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula after he gathered a little more negative information about there being any reptiles or amphibians at all on the island. It may perhaps have been logged for steamship fuel in the 1930s, which would have dried up the earthworm population. No...

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Hunting and Fishing

Mary Blocksma

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pp. 219-224

...Along the road to Crane Creek State Park, an area flanked on one side by Magee Marsh Wildlife Area (hunting in season) and on the other by the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (no hunting), I observe egrets, herons, and flocks of ducks, and brake for families of Canadian geese crossing the puddle road. Inside a lovely beam-and-glass building, I discover nine huge glass cases crammed with beautifully mounted birds, from...

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Down the Drain

Janet Kauffman

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pp. 225-231

...pairs high up in the trees. They’re not easy to see, with skin that’s leafgreen and smooth as your own skin. But when you spot a few up there, picking’s a party. In that tangle of prickly ash and wild grapevines, you designate somebody as spotter, then shake the slender pawpaw...

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Littoral Drift

Mary Blocksma

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pp. 232-234

...Conneaut, just over the Ohio line, where I find myself in a magically lovely town park. A creek meanders through undulating lawns canopied by spreading trees and scattered with picnic tables, a pavilion, a playground, mossy nooks. It’s large, too, for such a small town, but no one else is here; the sudden appearance of a gnome or a flying cat wouldn’t really surprise me. There’s even a spacious, if gravelly, beach. Something’s drawing...

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The Forest Pasture

Jane Urquhart

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pp. 235-236

...spot, wanting as young professionals to spend at least part of the year close to parents and siblings who had remained on various farms in Northumberland County. This was not the traditional Ontario cottage with docks, jack pines, and rocks; it had been built at the turn of the century, along with five others of varying design, on lots that had been severed from the acreage...

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Notes on the Contributors

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pp. 237-246

...has worked since 1978, the first six years as a reporter. She sits on the newspaper’s editorial board and writes a column for the paper. “The Salmon” appeared there first in a slightly different form and under a different title. Anderson is a 1972 graduate of James Madison College at Michigan State University....

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 247-250

...Like all books, Fresh Water would not exist without the contributions of many people. I received hundreds of submissions, many of them from strangers. All contributors were exceptionally generous with their time and energy. Linda Loomis, Judith Minty, Lisa Lenzo, Michele Bergstrom, Sue Silverman, and Donna Seaman also offered enthusiastic support from the project’s inception in 2001. Many others sent encouragement...