Baw Beese Lake

The lake at Hillsdale, where I taught philosophy, featured in many of our recreational activities. It had been named after Chief Baw Beese, head of the 150 or so Potawotamy native Americans who had fished and hunted in its vicinity. A friend had a house on its edge, and in Spring we'd sometimes sip drinks on its porch listening to the chorus of insects that punctuated every evening. In Summer and Autumn it was a setting for lakeside barbecues and small boat sailing. In the bitterly cold Michigan winters the lake would freeze over to a depth of several feet. We'd go jet-skiing over its surface, clad in down-filled jackets and mittens and with scarves pulled tight over our faces. Sometimes I'd go ice-skating with friends, but never far from the edge

Sometimes there was ice fishing. The lake froze so hard that small trucks could be driven out to its middle. A circular hole would be cut through the ice with a mechanical drill and saw, and fishing would be done through the hole. A brazier of coals would be set up to provide some relief from the winter chills. There would be six-packs of beer to while away the time spent waiting for a bite. Against my expectations, fish would often be caught in this way. In all the time I was there I never heard of anyone or anything breaking the thick ice or falling through it.