By the shores of…

One of my PacNW blahggy buddies posted about her cousins yesterday. I’m not gonna link to her this time because, well, mainly because I think (like me) she sorta likes to fly her blahg a bit under the radar and this entry is about family “stuff”. I did offer to be her pretend cousin because she is what my Jewish buddies call a MENSCH and I think she deserves well, not *better* cousins because these folks are HUMAN and humans are imperfect (ask my kids!). But I have been blessed by wonderful cousins from both parents’ siblings and I wish that kind of family for everyone. I have my own family “stuff” but it doesn’t involve cousins.

One thing she wrote about made me go, “WAIT! WHAT?” for the second day in a row. When she was a kid, her extended fam took family vacations at a hotel called Gitche Gumee. IN WASHINGTON STATE! WAIT! WHAT?

Throughout my entire life, Gitchee Gumee is one of the names I have called Lake Superior, the big body of water I grew up on. This tipped my world a bit sideways so googly googly googly. As near as I can figure out… YES it is a Native American term from the Ojibway language. There are many spelling variants, which I won’t list. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow spelled it Gitchee Gumee and that’s how I have always spelled it.

It means “big sea” or “huge water” but is usually associated mainly with Lake Superior. In 1878, Bishop Baraga (google him), wrote a dictionary that included “Otchipwe-kitchi-gami” meaning “the sea of the Ojibwe people”. That would be Lake Superior but apparently “kitchi-gami” applied to ANY big body of water. I’ve been to the Pacific Ocean and it certainly qualifies as a big body of water. I dunno who named that hotel or why. Maybe they had Lake Superior or Ojibway tribe connections or maybe they were simply honoring the old poem. There has to be a connection but I dunno what it is.

I was a little kid, like six maybe, when I drew a picture of Gitchee Gumee. To me at that age, he was kind of a “monster” albeit not necessarily a scary monster. My picture was very colorful and full of carefully crafted “designs” (I learned this kinda stuff from my older MacMu cousin Sally) to fill in his face and clothing, etc. That thing hung up in the moomincabin beside the Sunfish sailbote trophy for many years. I wish I could share it today but it is no longer around and has probably disintegrated. Alas.

One Response to “By the shores of…”

  1. Margaret Says:

    I thought the hotel was spelled the way you spell it, but when I looked it up, it only had one E. It was a REAL DIVE. The name is probably because it’s right on the Pacific Ocean or some dummy named it who didn’t know the history of the expression. Or both? I have huge cousin envy because the two that I grew up with have turned into Scary People. (as you know from my blog)