Monday, December 8, 2014

The Lake

Lake Erie is the epicenter of life on the North Coast.  We love her temperate breezes in the summer and endure the gales of November.  Sheets of ice, lake effect snow and numbing squalls will greet January's ice-fishing crowds. Best of all, the return of spring and the migration of raptors and neo-tropical migrant birds.

The Marblehead Lighthouse
The Marblehead light keeps watch over the wave-washed shores. We tend to think of the light as a quaint piece of history; Ohio's most photographed location.  But before electronic navigation devices it was literally a life-saver for sailors navigating the lake during storms and dark of night.  The light is firmly built upon a dangerous, rocky outcrop at the eastern-most point of Marblehead.

The lake giveth, and she takes away. Our freshly groomed shores of Lakeside took a bit of a beating this fall.  An ambitious November storm, a Nor'easter, chewed on the landscape we planted in late summer.  Waves blew up over the rocky shoreline and re-distributed topsoil and gravel onto the lawn.

 The lake deposited some "sticks," or rather large driftwood logs.  Timbers much too big for a man, or even two, to maneuver are tossed about like matchsticks by violent storms.

 Even more impressive is the sudden appearance of a large chunk of stone and concrete foundation.  What forces must have been exerted to push this behemoth about the lake!  One must wonder from whence it came?

 These six little survivors held their ground like true Ohio born champions.  The deep roots of Little Bluestem grass, Schizachyrium scoparium held the earth in place against the waves.  If only the other deep-rooted prairie plants had more than a month to become established before the storms!  Then, they too might have fared better in the defense of our shore. 

Shoreline project before the storms of November.
This was the new landscape as we left it in September. Unfortunately, as the shore was pealed away by the lake, many of the plants were taken for a cold swim.  Storm damage was a risk we seriously considered while planning the project, for there is no assuaging an angry lake.  Erie will have her way,

Fortunately, we allowed for that possibility and chose to keep plantings (and potential losses) to a minimum.  The grass line remains and demonstrates how vegetation is a key component in the fight against erosion.

Who can know what other abuses the lake plans to hand out this winter?  Once the ice forms, the land will be less susceptible to Erie's angry waves.  Recently some of the lakeshore parks in Cleveland have also reported the first large scale storm erosion they have seen in years.  We will watch and see, while planning logical steps to minimize future erosion and damage to our shoreline.

The lake giveth, and she takes away. 

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