One unexplained phenomenon of Lake Norman is the lake monster, aptly named “Normie.” Normie lives deep in the lake, and only comes out at night. Bearing a strong resemblance to the Loch Ness monster, Normie is serpent-like and huge, and somehow remains undocumented by the over 7,000 residents that frequent the area.
On a summer night in high school, my friends and I went swimming a bit farther out on the lake than usual. Sitting in a circle on our floaties in the warm water, we decided to tell scary stories. Or maybe we were playing Never Have I Ever, or Truth or Dare, or another one of those young adult to teenaged games. Regardless, one of my friends decided to tell the story of Normie the lake monster. My friends and I teased her, saying we only believed in Normie as kids. But she continued, and a few minutes later, I felt something brush my leg under the water. I assumed it was my friend sitting beside me, but her feet were above the surface. I felt it again, right as my friend across the circle said “Hey, is that you touching my leg?” I said that something had touched me as well, and suddenly the entire group was swimming back to the dock like our lives depended on it. Once we were out of the water, we all started laughing, thinking our friend had successfully scared us. But she swore it wasn’t her. Clearly, the only logical answer was that Normie the the Lake Norman monster wanted to give us a little nudge to believe.
Other creatures that inhabit Lake Norman are just as intimidating as Normie (to some), but not quite as much of a mystery. My family and I do not have a great track record with the insects we interact with at Lake Norman, though they clearly have more of a right to exist there than we do. A lifelong fear of spiders has made me cautious of walking onto the dock unless armed with a stick or pool noodle to fend off potential webs. Though dragonflies are harmless and beautiful, my sister’s screeches can be heard for miles around anytime one gets within three feet of her. The mosquitoes hardly need mention, as they are a common annoyance in any part of the southern United States. Water striders, or Gerridae, also known in the South as “Jesus bugs” for their ability to float on the water’s surface, cause pointless distress for my sisters when the surface of the lake is particularly calm.
One summer our trip to the lake was timed perfectly with the emergence of what seemed like millions of mayflies. We woke up one morning to the entire dock and porch covered in the odd looking little insects, with their thin, transparent wings and long, threadlike tails. It seemed like the apocalypse to myself and my younger sisters, until my father explained why they were there, along with the somewhat tragic life cycle of the mayfly. Waiting nearly a year in their immature phase, otherwise known as the nymph stage, mayflies sit in freshwater and do largely nothing. Most then live just one day in their mature phase, coming out in droves in order to pass on their genes, not even bothering to eat. I remember feeling bad for them, but still wishing they didn’t have to do that around me.