A Lake Erie Mystique

I first started visiting Lake Erie a number of years ago, often in the summer season, to see a friend who would come home from his east coast – west coast life from time to time to visit his hometown near the Lake Erie Islands. Route 2 became a welcome journey, with many stops along the way at the numerous parks and wildlife refuges that hug the western basin. As a Michigan resident, it didn’t take long for me to realize I was somewhat unique as a traveler from the north, with a destination that wasn’t Cedar Point, but more simply to experience the loveliness of a Lake Erie mystique. For this, I am forever grateful. This Lake has changed me.

The time I’ve spent on and near Lake Erie is precious to me. I’ve come to understand this Great Lake as a lake that fights for its own grace and dignity, a Lake fierce in its expression of wind and water and waves; a Lake held in dear regard by all of the friends I have made here on its shores. Through all of this, I’ve come to understand my own self as an islander, and a poet.

It worries me to think that the beloved summer months I spend here, writing songs inspired by the Lake Erie freshwater sea, that this time might be compromised by a sea of algae, or any other number of environmental threats Lake Erie faces. I fear that as stewards of the greater Lake Erie basin and watersheds we may not respond soon enough, or collaboratively enough, to rise to the challenge of caring for this Great Lake.

We can rise to the challenge of caring for our Great Lake Erie.  We can, and we must. Lake Erie has been at the forefront of environmental concerns in the Great Lakes region and bi-nationally in decades past, and remains so. The ecological value Lake Erie holds for the millions of birds that migrate through the transcontinental flyways over the western basin, and the value of the ecosystem as a whole, is magnificent and staggering. Preserving the integrity of this ecosystem, and the quality of the water as a life sustaining force, is the responsibility of us all. I find myself humbled to be part of such an amazing ecosystem and Lake Erie community. I ask you to answer this call to action, and join me in a shared journey of stewardship. Navigate your way to the sea, understand your work purposefully, with meaning, and know that it matters. It matters very much.


29 February 2016

Dawn Nelson

Poet, composer, environmental scientist, and wanderer in the Lake Erie basin


You can find me on Twitter @anadawn