It wasn’t cold enough, for long enough, this year and the lake never froze. Winters past you could walk meters out onto the surface of the water to look back at the high cliffs shining in the winter sun. This year was the warmest winter in this area since they started keeping track of these things. The lake stayed fluid, a mobile expanse of leaded motion adorned by the wind in crystallized crowns of froth and spit.
Open to the elements, the clay of the shoreline has shown the treacherous face of an amnesiac changing under the wind and waves of an incomplete season. Each day which dawns is unlike the day before and the sun of that day rests on sands that are unlike the sands of the day before. Yesterday’s shore is gone in the cold and the wind and the wave. Although today’s beach may pay homage to its lineage in mementos and relics, it wears a new face that will also fade with the passing of the hours and the tide.
Several calendar days short of spring the wind is a slap in the face. Cast up by the waves, the waters of the grey lady bare her fallen pilgrims. The smell of cucumbers, a hint of decay hangs in the air. Pale olive, purple and iridescent blue gems litter the gravelly shore. A pirate’s treasure is laid open to the sky for all to see. The smelt are running on Lake Erie.
Predestined, none escape. The frozen firmament that marks the boundaries of a preordained heaven never coalesced. Lost beyond time, a thread that was cut, now directionless in this unexpected reprieve, hosts of the misplaced have cast themselves upon the shore. Those of wing and fur who have over lingered or returned on a warm wind find a bloody eyed bounty, a banquet laid out on the sandy storm tossed shores of Erie.
Ice hangs, built up in motion as the mercury dips with the tide and laves the bones of bowering havens. Driftwood limbs, fallen from the heights, riding the shifts and tilts of copper cliffs made unsure but still graceful at right angles to the earth’s axis, are bearded in crusted ice. Tresses of lake bottom vines, lengths of auburn mermaid plaits, fringe the banquet table. The arcs of empty orbs are sanguine, puddled with the reflected rays of a condemned sun drowning in the opaque mirror while the cries of the gulls echo overhead.