This story comes to us from Sharon in Beaver Fall, Pa. She writes:
The exhilaration of lake breezes buffeting me always makes My Favorite Things list. I was raised in Erie, PA and our family’s trips to Presque Isle State Park on Lake Erie are memorable. As a young child, I remember being bustled out of bed in early morning hours to prepare breakfast on the beach, the aroma of bacon frying in a cast iron skillet mingling with the balmy smell of the Lake as it sent its waves crashing onto the shoreline. Breakfast, and all other picnics for that matter, was punctuated by the haunting calls of the sea gulls as they soared overhead. Many summer afternoons were spent lounging in the warm sands of Presque Isle, emerging from our repose long enough to take cool dips in the welcoming waters of Lake Erie. Leisurely walks along the shore always yielded watery treasures — smooth-edged sea glass, driftwood and the occasional mussel shell.
Presque Isle later became a romantic date destination, whether it was for a day of sunbathing and volleyball, or watching the sun slip below the horizon in a blaze of burnt orange. Left alone in the sky, the clouds turned to shades of rich pinks and deep, dusky lavenders. Lake Erie’s beach was the perfect stage for blooming romances and hand-in-hand walks in the sand.
When I married and became a mother, Presque Isle remained a regular getaway destination. We relaxed in our lounge chairs while our young son built castles and caves in the sand, chased the gulls and swam like a fish in the waters of Lake Erie. Our constant comment was that when comfortably parked in the sand, gazing out at the sailboats on the horizon, one never knew if the azure pool stretching out before us was the ocean or a lake. We laughed at those traveling for hours and hours to the ocean, often at great expense, to enjoy the same setting as we had right in our own backyard.
When summer days were waning and the tug of the beach lost its urgency, our path turned toward the Nature Walk where we discovered the peninsula’s plant and wildlife. The exercise warmed us as we walked in the shaded canopy of gold and bronze, the lake air full of the promise of the coming season change. When the leaves fell and the winds turned sharp, we enjoyed a drive to view the breathtaking ice dunes created by the Lake’s refusal to lie still in the dead of winter.
My family moved away from Erie — “inland” as we called it — beckoned by a career. An opportunity arose once with a local newspaper to extol the virtues of western Pennsylvania in autumn. Of course, my essay and invitation was to visit Lake Erie, experience Presque Isle out-of-season, test the wineries dotting the lakeshore and watch the metamorphosis of summer into autumn.
We return to Lake Erie often, drawn as much by memories as opportunities for new experiences. The Lake always calls me home.
Thanks, Sharon, for that tale. You, too, can enter the Great Lakes story and photo contest for a chance to win prizes.
You can also participate in the effort to restore the Great Lakes—which are seriously threatened by sewage contamination and invasive species. Get involved today to help protect our lakes, our drinking water, our public health, our economy, and our way of life.