Sunday 17 August 2014

American Lotus Lily Pad


The sky was a clear blue, the wind off Lake Erie having blown away the lingering clouds.  We scanned the horizon and admired the line of poplar trees which bordered the marsh at Point Pelee.  One by one, our party of 12 climbed into a large silver canoe.  We slowly paddled the boat through the acres of reeds and cattails. Tourists strolled on the nearby boardwalk, their cameras poised.  Endless lily pads floated on the water, a turtle perched on one of them. All of a sudden, a muskrat swam in front of the canoe.  Jacqueline got a quick glimpse of the creature.  We continued to paddle further into the marsh.  Seaweed, which grew in a thick layer just below the surface, caught on our paddles.  A couple of kayaks paddled past us.  A light breeze blew as we entered a clearing.  We feasted our eyes on the piece de resistance:  a giant American lotus lily pad.  It was a patchwork of lily pads, all covered with large yellow flowers, most of which were open to the sun.  Above some of the flowers hovered blue birds with long needle-like beaks. Our guide explained that the American lotus had just arrived seven years before, likely brought to the marsh by a flock of birds.  She warned us that if we lingered too long, we might be dive bombed by the birds.  We disentangled the canoe from the lily pads and turned around, heading back to the shore.  Our guide asked us if we had been bitten by any mosquitoes, but we said "No".  She pointed out that the dragonflies feasted on the mosquitoes.  What a treat!  As we approached the boardwalk, our guide pointed out a home built by the local beaver.  He even chewed down an old sign to use as building material.  We paddled past the beaver dam and headed for shore.  We "parallel parked" at the dock and carefully climbed out.  It was the perfect ending to the perfect trip.

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