On the first Sunday in January, I pull into the Empire Village Beach parking lot to meet 10 neighbors for a swim. The air temperature is 35 degrees Fahrenheit; Lake Michigan is 37 degrees. The group is made up almost entirely of women with members spanning in age from their early 30s to 70 years old. Most of the people present this first Sunday in January, myself included, have been meeting once or twice weekly for cold water swims since October. Winter swimming, also called cold dipping or polar plunging, is an umbrella term for various ways of submerging in cold water. For this group of brave locals, cold dipping involves a measured entrance into Lake Michigan, partnered with calm breathing. Participants spend 3-5 minutes in the water up to their shoulders, often wearing neoprene booties and gloves to fight against numbness in their extremities. Most of us wear winter hats on our heads and do not go under, though a few brave souls will wear swimming caps and plunge their entire bodies under the waves.

At The Homestead, you’ll find neighborhoods — lakefront, riverfront, river and lakefront, lake view and forest view — separated by nature. Within those neighborhoods, you’ll find many choices for accommodations, all of which are ranked with quality standards — Grand, Classic or Simple. Privately owned resort condominiums and homes are available at all quality levels; Grand, Classic or Simple. Whatever you choose, you will enjoy complete access to all of the resort’s amenities, restaurants and services.

It was the year of high water, as Lake Michigan water levels nearly eclipsed their all-time record—just six years after setting their all-time low. That made beach walking difficult; it exacerbated conflicts over beach-walking rights along riparian-owned property; it made the reality of Climate Change even more dire, and it contributed to flooding in Leland’s historic Fishtown.

Meet Bill Meserve and Cal Killen, two of the people responsible for managing water levels in the Glen Lakes as well as the Crystal River. Under the auspices of the Glen Lake Association (GLA), these volunteers serve on the Water Level Committee appointed to balance the needs and demands of both lake shore and river’s edge owners, as well as the businesses that depend on these stunningly beautiful and fragile water resources.

June swelled Lake Michigan by another 4 inches which is bad news for Megan Grosvenor Munoz, whose family owns and operates Manitou Island Transit. The company ferries passengers on pleasure tours to the Manitou Islands out of Leland. This spring and summer, they’ve had to cancel four or five trips, Munoz says, “because we can’t get people on South [Manitou] safely” due to water splashing over the dock on the island.”

We are closely monitoring Lake Michigan’s extreme high water levels this summer—their impact on beaches and beach walking, commerce and the economy, and whether their meteoric rise since bottoming out in 2013 represents a “new normal” in the age of Climate Change.

Mother Courtney Kaiser-Sandler reflects on the day a year ago when her 6-year-old daughter Sofia floated offshore, nearly 2 miles into Lake Michigan in an inflatable unicorn floatie, and nearly drowned.

As soon as Sarah Dilley and Suzie Viswat are asked what makes up north living so special, they share an almost childlike smile and simultaneously respond, “Lake Michigan.” Thinking that the iconic stone hadn’t really been used commercially all that much, the women began working together, writing down phrases and words that would eventually become their logo for a Petoskey stone inspired retail endeavor: Sleeping Bear Rocks.

Last June 22, before Scott Tucker had finished his first week as the new superintendent at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a vacationer drowned while snorkeling in Loon Lake near the Platte River. Two weeks later, an 81-year-old man from southeast Michigan perished in Big Glen Lake when his boat drifted away while he was swimming. And on Sept. 5, a 21-year-old died when his kayak capsized near Platte Bay in Lake Michigan waters. Three drowning deaths in or near our National Lakeshore.

This essay originally appeared in Stocking’s book Letters from the Leelanau, University of Michigan Press, 1990. We’re reprinting it to launch a year-long series in the Glen Arbor Sun about the living and present-day legacy of Native Americans in Leelanau—one that survives beyond history books and museums.