Sunday, February 08, 2009

My close brush with imaginary death at the hands of Lake Erie... and I don't even fish

I thought I was all finished writing about Lake Erie. It's nearly 600 miles away and what else could I possibly have to say about it? And then several hundred people decided to talk a walk on it to catch some fish yesterday. I lived on that lake all of one winter and the better part of another and never ... not once time ... did I ever see anybody EVER walk out on it. Not for fish, not for fun, not for a stroll to Canada. Maybe people around Cleveland are just smarter but it didn't happen. I was actually a little shocked yesterday to learn from Fox News that people ... a virtual "city of people" ... had been out there to the west of my former home for a couple of weeks. Fishing. Searching for the elusive Walleye.

When the lake freezes it doesn't usually become just a flat piece of ice. It becomes "ice dunes." Under currents and pressure from ice floes blown about by the wind causes the bits of ice to wreck into each other and it becomes like one giant car wreck. I've seen some of them easily reach five feet high. And it appears that the tops can be razor sharp. Evidently that's not the case to the west. In order to walk out on the lake where I lived you would have to have had a total lobotomy. Of course, some people DO have total lobotomies. So I suppose it's possible.

But would you do it for a fish? All of this took place just to the west of Port Clinton, Ohio. That is where some of the people stuck out there on ATV's and snow mobiles traveled to in their successful search for uncracked ice to cross back over to the mainland. Port Clinton is also where my favorite fish joint is. Jolly Rogers. Best certified Lake Erie Perch I ever found. And you can get it for under $10. That's about $6,990 less than your typical funeral.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

I was talking about that event tonight with some people at church. They had expressed interest in my Erie experiences and I was telling them about the joys of living 9 floors above the water in the dead of winter. That's when I remembered a particular evening that I had filed to the back of my brain. Probably due to embarrassment due to stupidity. I had not lived in Ohio very long. Debbie was still in Illinois. It was a VERY cold night with a VERY strong wind out of the north and a VERY large dump of snow was blowing in off of the lake. You could not hear the waves because there weren't any. It was all ice. I walked out onto my balcony wearing jeans and a flannel shirt. It felt good just to experience the raw power of God's raging storm. After just a few moments I went back inside, face frozen and, evidently, brain frost bitten as well. I grabbed Tess the Laptop, sat on the floor, and leaned against the double sliding glass doors to my balcony. All of the lights were off. When the lake is covered in ice it stays every light outside. Erie can be very eerie. I opened my electronic journaling program and began to write a letter to God. That's how I journal. I write and He reads. A lot was going on. I was missing my wife. I was a little lonely. Okay, I was VERY lonely. It was late. I was dumping on God. I probably wrote for the better part of 30 minutes. I just looked it up and read it. At least I think I read the correct one. Doesn't really matter. But when I finished writing on that cold winters night I closed my laptop and went to stand up only to find that I was FROZEN to the glass of the balcony door. Well, my shirt was frozen to it. The condensation had turned to ice, invaded my flannel and I was glued to the door. To add insult to injury the shirt was stuck to my back. I was, in a very real way, frozen 90 feet above Lake Erie on a stormy night in the dead of winter. Honestly, it was not hard to get unstuck. The back is strong but I didn't want to tear the shirt and so I pulled it off and then gently peeled it away from the glass.

So that was my dumb Lake Erie story. It's pretty boring compared to those who walk out ON that thing in the dead of winter just to pull in a few fish that you can buy on shore for just a few bucks. My life was never at risk. My dignity was bruised. My flesh was stinging. But the Coast Guard was not needed and I didn't loose anybodies ATV.

I really need to up my level of risk.
(Erie from space 3 days ago)


Kellita M said...

Thankfully you lived to tell about it!
I hope you are enjoying a brief bit of February Indian Summer as we are in balmy Chicago. It makes those frigid winter pics look so yesterday!!