The Shores Of Lake Erie, As They Once Were

A heron scouts for prey at the Sheldon Marsh Nature Preserve

When we were up at Lake Erie over the summer, Russell and I took a long walk through the beautiful Sheldon Marsh Nature Preserve.  Located in Erie County, the 465-acre Preserve contains some of the last undisturbed stretches of natural Lake Erie shoreline.

The marshes, swamps, and woods at the Preserve

Strolling through the Preserve gives you a good sense of the sprawling wetlands and lake-marsh-forest ecosystems that used to be found everywhere along Lake Erie’s shores.  Starting from the lake itself and heading inland, you walk past barrier beaches, swamps filled with cattails, woodland marshes, hardwood forests, and “old fields.”  The ecosystems gradually change from one to the next, each marked by their own mix of flora and fauna.

The Preserve is home to hundreds of different species of birds and different kinds of wildflowers.  Among the birds that call the Preserve home are herons, red-tailed hawks, wood ducks, terns, woodcocks, and numerous songbirds.

The curious water flowers at the Preserve

Russell and I particularly enjoyed watching the white herons at the Preserve, absolutely motionless on their perches and patiently scanning the water, looking for a meal.  We also were fascinated by a water plant with broad green leaves and a single, fist-like bud that grew on a thin stalk and then opened into a bright white flower.  These curious plants grew in profusion on the edge between the swamp and the marshland.

The Preserve is free and is found along U.S. 6, just west of Huron.  Autumn is supposed to be a good time to visit, particularly if you like bird-watching, because the Preserve is a favorite spot for migrating birds.  It’s well worth a visit.

An American Scene

America — and not just Minnesota, either — is a land of lakes.  We love to fish their waters, zip across them on motorboats, whip them into rooster tails on our jet skis, and skim their surfaces on sailboats.  We love to sit peacefully on the lakefronts, smell the watery scents of their shorelines, look across the ruffled surfaces, and feel the freshening breezes.

This photo was taken on the shores of Lake Erie, near Huron.

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

A Great Root Beer Float On A Hot Summer Day

There is nothing quite so satisfying on a scorchingly hot summer day as a well-made root beer float.

In this case, the root beer float was supplied by the Pied Piper in Huron, Ohio.  The Pied Piper is one of those places that has been around for decades, supplying soft-serve ice cream and milkshakes and banana splits to parched patrons during the summer months.  I can attest from first-hand knowledge that they know how to make a great root beer float.

The great root beer float starts, of course, with the root beer.  It has to be smooth yet flavorful, with that deep, dark tang that you find only in good root beer.  Then, you must add fine vanilla ice cream — soft-serve is best — in just the right proportion.  Skrimp on the ice cream, and you just end up with unsatisfying, milky root beer.  Put in too much ice cream, and the root beer is overwhelmed.  The ice cream also must be added in a way to create a kind of root beer foam at the top of the cup that can be skimmed off with a spoon and enjoyed as the ice cream begins to melt.

The implements provided also are key.  A straw is essential, both for sipping the root beer concoction (but watch out for brain freeze!) and for puncturing the bobbing blob of ice cream to facilitate the ice cream/root beer melding process.  And a spoon is crucial, not only for the preliminary foam skimming but also to allow consumption of the heavenly spoon-worthy slush at the bottom of the cup, after the melding process has been fully realized, and you are left with a rich, creamy combination that is fit for a king — or a Pied Piper.

As I said, there is nothing quite so satisfying as a root beer float on a hot summer’s day.