Sunday, August 30, 2009

Parks and Peaches

I have been back from my trip to Canada for almost a week and have moved on to other things, but scenes from my trip still keep popping into my head. I glimpsed Lake Michigan through a clump of trees just south of Milwaukee yesterday and remembered the beaches at Lake Huron. When I saw butterflies hovering over tall purple stalks of liatris at the gardens near my house, I was reminded of the butterfly exhibit at Point Pelee National Park at Lake Erie.

I stopped at Point Pelee on my way home. I drove south off Highway 401 about 20 miles through fertile fields, several of which sported signs identifying them with large agricultural conglomerates. In Leamington, Ontario, there is a H.J. Heinz production facility and although it did not specifically say it made ketchup or pickle relish, I wouldn’t be surprised if it did because the fields outside the city grow tomatoes, cucumbers and many other vegetables.

At the entry to Point Pelee Park (I should tell you the fee was much less than that to enter the provincial park at Lake Huron), I learned that the park is at the southern most tip of Canada, and is a major site for migrating birds and butterflies. The park has several beaches, a significant marsh and more of the Carolinian Forest that is unique in Canada to this part of southern Ontario.

I walked a section of the marsh, and then drove to the Visitor Center, where I hopped on the shuttle that takes visitors to the tip of the point. You can’t drive down there on your own, although you can walk or bike. At the tip, you can see the Lake Erie Islands, although I could not identify which one was which. Two summers ago, Michael and I took the ferry from Port Clinton Ohio to South Bass Island and Put-in-Bay. I am not sure if that’s what I was looking at as I stood on the southern most tip of Canada, but it was a pretty picture.

I walked around the tip, then got the shuttle back to my car and proceeded on to Windsor, where I crossed the Ambassador Bridge with hardly any delay. I decided to stop for the night in Jackson MI. The next morning, I drove west and as I got close to the Michigan-Indiana border, I saw a crude handwritten sign advertising a blueberry farm just a mile off the interstate. I followed the directions which took me down a dirt road to an outdoor stand, where workers where sorting freshly picked blueberries. You could pick your own but I didn’t. I bought two pounds of berries and now I wish I had bought more. Those are already gone and they were delicious.

I asked the woman at the stand where I could get peaches and she directed me about ten miles south. It was a little out of my way, but still in the general direction I was going, so I stopped and bought peaches, too. Is there anything that tastes as good as a sun-ripened peach?

As of this morning, the large bag of peaches I bought is almost gone, too. Summer fruit – peaches, plums, grapes, and cherries – is another great thing about the Great Lakes. I may just have to take another road trip to see - and eat – more of both.

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