North Ave. Beach, Chicago
Last week, the National Weather Service announced a marine warning with the admonition to stay away from the Lakefront because of unusually high winds from the north. “Rogue waves” were then mentioned (sensationally) in media. As a lover of the Lake, life-long observer of its moods, and open-water swimmer, I knew what that meant to me and mine: “AWESOME”.
We drove to the Lakefront near our old neighborhood, arriving just after moonrise. We weren’t alone, but there were far fewer Chicagoans than I expected. Here was an opportunity to see 10-15 ft. waves on a gorgeous, full-moon night: who wouldn’t want to see that? (From a safe distance, of course.)
Lake Michigan commands respect, deserves protection, and a requires a good share of scientific understanding. Nights like this one inspired many of us in Chicago to take the time to find out what “rogue waves” are, and expand our understanding of Lake ecology. I hope that we who live right here make the time to incorporate what I call “hyper-local inquiry” to better understand our relationship to Lake Michigan: from water quality to asian carp.