When is an ocean not an ocean? When it is a lake. A great lake.
Standing on the shore of Lake Michigan, watching the small waves foaming onto shore, I could see nothing in the distance but more water. Like with an ocean, the land other side of the water was too far away to see, but even I could sense the differences between the ocean and the great lake. Smell, for one. Oceans are salty and the odor of fish-scented brine is one of the defining elements of an ocean. Lake Michigan smelled fresh, which of course, it is. Another major difference was the feel of power as immense ocean waves come crashing to shore pulled by cosmic tidal action compared to the serenity of gentle waves lapping at the land edging the lake. (Oddly, some of the worst shipwrecks have occurred on Michigan Lake, making it not quite as placid as it appears.)
Still, as I stood by the water’s edge, I didn’t care if the lake were an ocean or merely an inland body of water. The wonder of seeing all that water and the way the sight made me wonder about nature and the nature of our lives, was all that mattered.
(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)