Do you want to know how to get to my place on the lake? You head out from Stuntz Bay and go past Banana and Bowl Islands. Go through the narrows and get out into the Raceway. Watch out for Bird …
Do you want to know how to get to my place on the lake? You head out from Stuntz Bay and go past Banana and Bowl Islands. Go through the narrows and get out into the Raceway. Watch out for Bird Island and head north toward the Gazebo. Leave yourself a good distance from shore while you go around Biscuit Point and there I am. Just before you get to Eagle Point. So, what’s my point in all this? We have names, official and unofficial, to guide us on our adventures.
I noticed this phenomenon first when I lived in Montana. My partner and I developed names for every little new back trail, rock and gully we visited. Mostly so that we could tell each other our funny, and not so funny stories and have a reference of where we were. We used official names like the Milk River and Bone Trail. And we developed our own nonofficial names like Stagecoach, where a bush looks like a stagecoach going over a ridge and Bare Foot Ridge where we went barefoot on the silt washed from the top of the rock.
In Montana, we named mostly trails and rocks and ridges, but I find the water topography works just about the same. Here on Lake Vermilion (A name derived from the Ojibwe word “Onamuni” and means “Lake of the sunset glow.”) we have official names that sound very important. Take for instance Stuntz Bay and McKinley Park. Yep, important. And then we have names that are official but don’t sound that way. Take Hoodoo Point; where did that come from? It sure sounds funny, but it means a column or pinnacle of rock. I looked it up. Who knew?
I find that my unofficial names for places here on the lake have a large range of topics, though food seems to be popular for me. Banana and Bowl Islands and Biscuit Point must have come up on days when I was hungry. Or not, maybe food is always on my mind. And then there’s the Mouth.
Animal names seem popular, too. Bear Island Lake and Eagles Nest are, of courses, official names, but I have named Eagle Tree, where the eagles scout and launch into Big Bay in search of their next meal. And, again of my own creation, Little Beaver Bay, where I caught that critter running off with my winter firewood. There’s also Bird Island, where of course the birds gather. It seems like a cold place this time of year.
Topographical names seem good for obvious reasons. Take Big Bay, well, dah! My own topographical names include the Narrows and the Raceway. Most of my family know where they are.
I also have some places that have been named for truly random reasons. For instance, Nebraska Bay, named because my partner and I saw a license plate from Nebraska when we were fishing there.
So, there you have it. The unofficial “How To” manual on how and why to name your own special places. No matter how or why a place gets a name, it remains important. To guide us in future adventures and in adventures that will forever remain in our memories.