When Debby Sorokopud paddles out onto Lake Superior from Havilland Shores' second bay, she usually heads into the wind which seems prevalent often coming from the northwest. It makes it easier to have the wind at her back on the return.
Originally from the Sault, Sorokopud moved to British Columbia and the Yukon to pursue her career. In 2012, she made her return, taking up residence in her cottage home on the shores of Lake Superior.
She works for the Alzheimer’s Society as a recreation therapist teaching a community-based program, Mind in Motion.
"Mother Nature has always been such a profound teacher, healer and offers comfort for me always," said Sorokopud.
Paddling is a passion she feels grew at the age of four or five after her parents took her out camping, and mushroom and blueberry picking.
"My experience living in Yukon enhanced my existing adoration for nature and exploring adventures," she said.
"I have only paddled recreationally the last five or six years mostly on Superior and often towards Horseshoe Bay. A few select times when Superior offers that glass-like experience I have paddled over to the Flower Pot Islands," said Sorokopud.
She equates time out paddling versus distance to determine her return. After monitoring lake conditions, which can change very quickly, she allows herself a maximum of a couple hours paddling especially when solo, but longer periods while paddling with friends.
In terms of safety, Sorokopud stresses "PFDs are a must, to be worn at all times. Any boats less than 11 feet are not considered a legal kayak. Never use these small, sinkable boats in a large lake like Superior with all her unpredictable changes!"
When in her kayak, she uses her cell phone to take photos and always carries it with her in a dry sack along with a few other required safety items.
"I take pictures often because I see how quickly nature is forever changing. It’s like reading a new book every season," she explained.
It's evident in her photos that Superior provides a calming sense of beauty and peace. Its colours and vastness provide a feast for the senses.
"There is nothing more calming than to hear the soft stroke from my paddle as it dips into the waters," said Sorokopud. "I often tell folks, when you walk in silence amongst Gaia she will always be there to hold you close. And when you respect everything she is about (including our snowy winters) you will experience a forever peaceful presence within your soul."
"I often look to Mother Nature for comfort anytime I feel sad or alone, especially during this time of pandemonium! She speaks in so many ways! Happily, my favourite activity when I walk my huskies or paddle out on Superior is to listen to the many natural sounds. It always makes me feel like I am in a peaceful abyss between Heaven and Earth."
"She is always around so I never feel I am alone and that inspires me to always take random photographs, in hopes it brings joy to many others especially now – those that are restricted in their homes."