The Quest For Pelican Lake(s)
edited: Saturday, January 19, 2008
By Henry L. Lefevre
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Monday, February 07, 2005
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When did Pelican Lake move north?
I picked Glenwood, Minnesota as a setting for one of my stories. It sounded appealing. In the old days, they were well known for having lutefisk that could trigger Homeland-Security alerts whenever the odor escaped from the city. The smell was also penetrating enough to work its way through six layers of wool. It made an ideal setting, giving me the opportunity to create characters who ate buttered lefse for lunch and lutefisk for supper. Of course, these gourmet foods were normally washed down with gallons of coffee. There was only one problem. My main character became lost near a magnificent waterhole called Pelican Lake. That made sense to me since my wife was raised near the small Pelican Lake that actually planted itself within ten miles of Glenwood.
Unfortunately, the editor balked. "Do better research," she said. "Pelican Lake is way up north in polar bear country." She implied that a Glenwood resident couldn't make a trip to the lake in less than twenty-four hours even if they used the fastest huskies in Minnesota for pulling their sleds.
As is often the case, both the editor and I were more or less right. Minnesota has two Pelican Lakes. To make maters more confusing, they don't even call the cold northern body of water Big Pelican Lake, nor do they call the wee hidden pond to the south Little Pelican Lake. Once I studied the Minnesota map, I realized that Minnesota actually did have two Pelican Lakes. Unfortunately, the one near Glenwood was too small for the editor to find without a guide dog. Ufda! Minnesota seems to have too many Pelicans.
Glenwood's Pelican Lake is small as far as Minnesota lakes go. The last time I looked, they didn't even have pictures of pelicans marking its borders.
Northern Minnesota, however, is very expansive. Comes summer, when the weather gets above zero once in a while, I plan to explore that part of the state. I wouldn't be surprised if the bigger Pelican Lake had carvings of the birds at the entrance of each of the lake's parking lots. However, I don't plan on exploring the area during the cold months of the year. In the first place, any smart pelicans would fly south for the winter, abandoning their namesake. In the second place, my car doesn't appreciate being exposed to -45-degree weather.
Therefore, my advice to any struggling writer is: "do your research." The area you are using for background might have three or four Pelican Lakes. Don't confuse the editor unnecessarily.
If nothing else works, name your lakes after something or someone that doesn't exist. Then, let the eagle-eyed editors try and back you into a corner. Few editors have enough time on their hands. I doubt if they'll try.
(c) Henry L. Lefevre
(Previously listed on Suite101)