Lake Michigan reached record low-water levels in January, 2013, creating bountiful beaches on Wisconsin’s shoreline. By Winter, 2014, however, the Lake started rising. By April, 2020, it had risen more than six feet. It swallowed those sandy beaches, took down trees, erased landscaping, rearranged boulders.
At the same time, the Lake was coughing up stones. Millions and millions of Great Lakes stones. Stones of all and textures, uniform in size and shape within their particular rock-neighborhood. Pieces of the region’s bedrock are plentiful; sedimentary rocks from the Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian periods. Much of Wisconsin lay beneath the Laurentian ice sheet in the Wisconsin Glacial Episode, the most recent of the ice ages. The state is blanketed with glacial drift.
It’s Lake Michigan’s nature to turn stones into smooth ovals. But some of those rocks contain fossils. Or did contain fossils. Limestone, sandstone, quartz, and chert often contain irregularities, traces that can be identified as fossils. When I look at the weathered rocks, I see ghosts.
Elizabeth G Fagan is a writer and artist who resides on Lake Michigan’s shoreline in southeastern Wisconsin—a place she calls Lake Michigan’s Left Coast.
Fagan attended The Hammonasset School, a private arts high school in Connecticut, where she began writing and taking photographs. She earned a BA in English at Grinnell College (Grinnell, Iowa) and the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC). She has an MA in Linguistics with a specialization in teaching English as a second language (ESL) from UIC. Fagan later gained an associate degree in Web Development from DePaul University in Chicago.
Unauthorized use is prohibited