Monday, August 2, 2010

A Great Lake

In Philadelphia there's a special phrase for making the trip across New Jersey to the Atlantic Ocean: it's called going "down the shore." Not "to the shore," or "down to the shore," just "down the shore." As in, "We're going down the shore this weekend" or "We'll be down the shore all next week."

I never could get used to that particular Philly - ism. Besides, I had my own name for the Atlantic: I pretty much just called it the Lake. As in, "We built sand castles at the lake all afternoon." Then our friends with whom we often went "down the shore" would remind me: "Uh, this is not the lake, Kitti, this is the ocean."

"Oh, yeah . . . I mean the ocean. Same same."

Great Lake . . . Down the Shore
Lake Michigan in 1986 & Atlantic Ocean in 1996

That's what happens if you've lived all your life in the land-locked Mid-west and never seen the Shining Seas which bound our continent. I had, however, seen Lake Michigan plenty of times. I can't say it was just like being at the ocean, because I hadn't yet been to the ocean.

But I can say that looking across the Atlantic, when I finally did so, was just like looking across Lake Michigan: water, water everywhere, as far as the eye can see. A Great Lake! Not as vast as the Atlantic or the Pacific, but you'd never know it. Chicago, though not as distant, is just as invisible from St. Joseph, Michigan, as England is from Ocean City, New Jersey.

Just water and the horizon.


  1. I always loved the 'down the shore.' Actually as a misplaced mid-westerner, I always said, "I'm going to the shore." I love the shore! I love Cape May. What a magical, beautiful shore town. My hometown now in Ohio reminds me of living at the shore but not, you know, no smells,etc. As for the Great Lake of Erie, I seem afaid to drive north...Is there a boardwalk? fudge? a slice of pizza?

  2. Where is this photo? It looks like the mirror ball in Chicago. Meredith and I took a picture of ourselves in it!

  3. Milly, Yes! The header photo was taken in Chicago by my friend Dagmar last February (2009) when we rode the train up to see JERSEY BOYS. I thought it went well with the Quinton Duval quotation because the city looks kind of like a big, round jar where the big ideas might huddle, along with our miniaturized reflections! xo, Kit

  4. P.S. Send your picture & I will post it!