Lake Erie, USA - Michael Mezzacapo
My Watermark is Lake Erie, particularly Shades Beach in Harbour Creek, Pennsylvania.
I’m with the International Joint Commission, 2017-2018 Michigan Sea Grant Fellow, originally from Erie, Pennsylvania.
I can remember when I was about 12 or 13 years old, there was a pretty large thunderstorm that was going on, and I remember begging my Uncles to take us down to the beach so we could watch the thunderstorm. They drove us down, with hesitation from my mom of course, and we were able to sit on the beach as we often did to watch the sunset, however this time we were able to watch some waterspouts forming over the lake. This was just an incredible experience, being 13, your adrenaline's rushing to see those type of things, but looking back on that, the lake was a big part of my life at the time.
Everytime I go home I try to go to Shades Beach to check out a sunset whenever I can. It’s engrained in my memory, it feels very familiar. It’s always a good place to relax and watch the water. If you can, you can launch a canoe from there or your boat.
As a kid we never really hopped in the water and went for a dip. I can remember that most of the time we spent our time on the beach just watching the water. It often didn’t smell so great, and probably wasn’t the best for swimming, but now with a lot of the efforts the lake is fairly clean and you can see families swimming in it quite often with their kids and pet. And a lot of people are canoeing in that area, going boating, fishing. It’s incredible to see the transformation that has occurred, even from when I was a young child, to the water quality now.
The lakes are important to those communities; their life blood comes from (the lake) whether it’s people launching boats there, people fishing, tourism. It’s ingrained in their identity. The lake is apart of people, and people are apart of the lake.