I was raised near the shoreline of Lake Erie. We Clevelanders celebrate the lake and enjoy what this part of the Great Lakes region has to offer. Even in winter when the ice-encrusted fist of a wind from the Canadian north knifes into Cleveland.
The Lake Erie shoreline might mark the coldest spots in Greater Cleveland. If the air temperature does not get you to tighten the collar of your parka around your neck, the wind chill will do it.
Still, the beauty of the beach at winter calls. So much so, photographer Rich Geyser and I ventured to the water's edge to see who else wanted to see such beauty or simply walk through the spray of a seeming angry Lake Erie. We were not disappointed. Lake Erie was kicking up her cold heels. And there were people at the city's Cleveland Metroparks Edgewater Beach.
"We take it in stride and keep on going," said Eliza Ter-arutyunov as she focused her camera on waves rolling to the sandy shore. She was not alone at the beach. There were others who bicycled through, tucking their chins as they pedaled into the wind. There were construction workers, too. About 100 yards from the lake, they worked bobcats and other pieces of machinery to dig trenches, paving the way for renovations to the park.
However, the construction workers had to be there. And they were being paid for their efforts. But the others walked the Lake Erie shoreline for pleasure. With temperatures below the freezing mark, they simply bundled up and took either pictures with their cameras or recorded the images in their brains.
"The lake is very different every time you come and look at it," said Zack Hoon, who is part of an art gallery where he often shows the photographs he takes. Today, he is without his camera; just enjoying a walk near the waterline.
Miles away at the state-run Headlands Beach in Mentor, Lake Erie seems more ferocious. In a swirling wind where snow is flying horizontally at times, there is a roar to the waves of the lake. Photographer Rich and I try to shield our faces from the wind, but it is difficult because the wind seems all-around.
Still, we work through the cold. Rich stops at times to warm his hands which are cold. He works barehanded to be able to adjust the controls of his camera more easily. I am reminded of the images I have seen of Hurricane Sandy roaring ashore in New Jersey several years ago. The intensity of the wind is not at that level, but the images we see remind me of Sandy.
At Headlands, in the distance, we saw a man walking across the beach. He was alone as he stepped toward the water itself. He walked within inches of the waves roaring ashore. Dressed in a parka with its hood tightened around his neck, the man did not seem to notice us. He was an unnamed soul who seemed to find a solace as he walked on the beach.
Rich’s camera took in his movements until the man disappeared in the lake spray, snow, and fog which seemed to cover everything. It was a beautiful sight.
I like Cleveland’s beaches at winter. At times, the scene is rough. And tough. And with a cold weather beauty which is breathtaking.