Saturday, December 22, 2012

An Angry Lake

Growing up on Lake Erie, you don't really need a boat to feel a connection to this amazing body of water.  I find it very hard to describe, but the lake is like a home base.  When I leave this area I find myself struggling to find my direction.  The lake, figuratively and literally, is north.  No matter where you are in Erie County if you can point to the lake, you know north, and therefore you can navigate.  Just like Polaris in the night sky, once found, navigation becomes easier, and a level of comfort is discovered. 

I think that's it really.  Comfort.  We all long for things in our lives that we can depend on, and no matter what else is happening in our lives, that lake, our Great Lake, will always be there.  Eternal.

Ironically, the lake can simultaneously be a destructive force.  Relentlessly thrashing against rocks.  Carving cliffs and bluffs.  Something as seemingly eternal as bedrock, is forged into shape by the endless persistence of water.

Lake Erie is the shallowest of the 5 Great Lakes, and thereby quite deadly.  Storms can blossom very quickly.  You see a shallow lake is a warm lake.  That heat energy, stored from the sun, gives birth to storms.  When cool air sweeps out of Canada it acts like a vacuum cleaner, sucking moisture directly from the lake.  Once that same air hits land the winds have to rise to escape the Great Lakes basin.  It can't do that with all the moisture it just absorbed.  In winter this action creates Lake Effect snow storms.  Storm machines would be more accurate.  Like a conveyor belt of cold air, sucking moisture out of the lake and depositing it back onto the land. 

The western Great Lakes experienced this weather phenomenon distinctly as winter storm Draco plowed out of the Midwest states.  Unfortunately that never really reached us here on the shores of Lake Erie.  The winds howled (as my 2 year old, and the bags under my eyes, will attest too) but the 2 inches of snow that did fall were stripped by whipping winds.  All we were left with was a dusting of snow, and an angry lake.  In the above pictures you can see just how awesome the waves can be stirred up, and this was several hours since the storm passed.  A testament to the awesome powers of Mother Nature.

And where were the animals?  Living through it, as they always do.  As humans we have adapted shelters and tools to survive in every single one of Earth's climates.  Yet we overreact the worst.  Another signal of how disconnected we are from the natural way of things?  Perhaps.  However that's far to pessimistic for me.  To capture these pictures I visited 4 Mile and 8 Mile creek in Harborcreek, PA.  Both creeks held fisherman, anxious to tangle with one of our winter Steelhead's.  Maybe some of us have become a bit soft to the rigors of nature, but there are those among us that understand the magic of the natural order.

Happy Exploring
Scott M

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