The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called 'gitche gumee'
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early.
If you are like me, the lyrics of Gordon Lightfoot’s 1970s chilling ballad, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, are etched in your brain. Maybe not word for word, but there’s a good chunk up there.
Lightfoot recounts the haunting story of a U.S. iron ore freighter that disappeared during a storm on Lake Superior, when the“witch of November came stealin’”.
The “gales/witch of November” are something to be expected every year around the same time on Lake Superior. The weather turns quickly and boaters and freighters know they have to get their last trip in before the winds hit. But the early north winds caught the Edmund Fitzgerald by a bit of a surprise and were not expected.
The Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario) are the largest contiguous body of fresh water in the world. Yes, the world. If you emptied the water over the continent of North America, the water would be 5’ (1.5m) deep.
Quite a massive body of water. Lake Michigan and Superior, especially, can be as calm as a lazy river one day and then eat up freighters the next. I’ve seen it and felt it.
While kayaking on Lake Superior a few weeks ago, what started out as a calm and slightly overcast day eventually turned into a challenging paddle. We put the kayaks in and travelled a few hours up the coast of Grand Island outside Munising in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The weather turned and I had water coming over the front of my boat. A light, misty rain started to fall and the temperature dropped. I was quickly getting cold and wet.
Then these lyrics popped into my head, repeating over and over again...
The captain wired in he had water comin' in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when his lights went outta sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
It was obvious that it was time to head back across the strait to shore. After all, I didn’t want the lights to get outta sight. We turned with our backs to the wind and cut across the strait, back to shore. We really made tracks.
The searches all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
If they'd put fifteen more miles behind her
There is a time of year that we trade show professionals know is coming. It’s the trade shows of September.
Yep. It happens every year. The show season starts to ramp up towards the end of September and keeps everyone at Prairie on our toes until December. But as I got back into the saddle at 758 Industrial Drive on August 29, BAM! The phone started ringing and the emails were flying. It was the Trade Shows of September coming early!
Like the Great Lakes, July and August are a bit of a quiet time for the trade show and event industries. We know September is coming but we get a little lazy and lax. This is traditionally the time when we all take a break, use racked-up vacation time and just take a breath. Hey, we deserve it don’t we?
But it came a little bit early this year. I’m glad I made it back to port, just in time.
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early