Just 30 miles southeast of Windsor is Point Pelee—the southernmost and lowest point in all of Canada—which drifts out into Lake Erie toward Ohio.* Even though Point Pelee National Park is tiny, it’s famed as one of the 10 best birding sites in North America and shares the same latitude as northern California, so it is really balmy and pleasant. (It’s the lowest grey spot close the MI.) Some 380 species of birds have been sited gathering there during yearly migrations across Lake Erie, and 100 species are known to nest there during the summer. Also, in August through October, up to an estimated 10,000 monarch butterflies gather there, because it’s the shortest crossing point over Lake Erie, and monarchs have to travel 3,000 km to winter in the mountains of central Mexico. Last weekend Alan took me there in hopes of seeing thousands of monarchs. Since it was a nostalgia tour, we stopped at an old-fashioned A&W (straight from our childhood) and had frosty mugs of root beer with french fries served in little baskets along with “Papa” burgers and “Mama” burgers…all served with Heinz ketchup, of course, since the Heinz factory is right down the street! (There are also several fine fish restaurants for those who prefer.) A road runs down the west side of the peninsula, and there’s a visitors’ center with a video and lots of excellent information to help orient the traveler. However, as a conservation measure to protect the environment, no cars are allowed at the very tip of the peninsula, so a complimentary shuttle service takes hikers to a way station where they can disembark and meander or hike to the sandy, southernmost “tip” of continental Canada! Last weekend when Alan and I hiked the beach, I saw more feathers washed up to shore than I’ve ever seen on any beach in my life, and a wider variety of feathers, too; not just sea gulls, but hawks and other large birds of prey… and rather grotesque skeletons of various types of fish. (Sorry, I like to make my posts uplifting and highlight the beautiful, but the beach was starkly “animal” rather than for human pleasure in a very compelling way. It somehow seems like it would be a lack of “truth in reporting” to gloss over this aspect of the shoreline.Still, Alan and I both felt the import of this little stretch of land that supports so much wildlife, & we were very happy to have hiked out to the land’s end. Beyond the birds and butterflies, Point Pelee supports dozens of species of wildflowers, and we were able to enjoy many of the varieties that bloom this time of year, although I will say that all of the above (except the lotus) grows in abundance around our woodland home. In fact, the plants growing along the path back to the shuttle tram looked just like what grows along our lane in MI! Bees and cabbage white butterflies flitted everywhere, but we never saw a single monarch butterfly! We have lots of milkweed along our lane (above), and so I’m going to share a few pictures taken on our lane this summer: Surprise, surprise! I’ve seen more monarchs at home than at Pelee Point! The moral of the story for me is: One butterfly in a bush is worth 10,000 butterflies that aren’t at hand. Does that mean I’ll never want to go back to Point Pelee? Not at all! I loved every minute of our experience, and if I can talk Alan into it, I’ll come back some other fall day to look for monarchs! (The fact is, 2013 is a bad year with monarch counts down 80%.)I’d love to go back some May and look for those 100-380 different birds! Of course, I might have to be content with a reticent frog…and another dreamy sunset like the one we enjoyed on the way home. BUT—wherever you and I go—I pray God leads us on beautiful journeys through life.
“Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven” (Psalm 148:13)
(*The three maps were borrowed from Wikipedia and Point Pelee’s website.)