Ah, Porphyry Island, my new happy place!
Recently, I had the exquisite pleasure of spending four days on this rugged island, an hour’s ride by zodiac from Thunder Bay, Ontario. I was part of a writers’ retreat with Jean E. Pendziwol, author of The Lightkeeper’s Daughters.
And it was an adventure, from start to finish!
The other two participants and I met Jean at Pier 3 on Thursday morning for a briefing from Captain Greg and Captain Paul of Sailsuperior.com They organized the transportation by large zodiac.
We donned bright orange survival suits and goggles (such a fashion statement, but necessary for the frigid waters of Lake Superior). Superior is the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area, and has a maximum depth of over 400 metres (1330 feet).
Flying across the surface at high speed, I had to pull up the hood on the suit and tie it tightly. There I was, an orange blob in a black zodiac, wearing goggles and a wide grin!
The fog hugged the land, the spray from the bleak gray waves was icy cold as the low clouds obscured the horizon.
We stopped in a couple of bays so that Jean could read sections from her novel that were based on the area.
As we approached Porphyry Island, she pointed out the light tower at the far end.
Nestled amid tall trees, I caught a glimpse of a white house with red trim – our home for the next four days.
We followed Paul, the volunteer guide from Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior (CLLS), along the lush path from the dock to the lightkeeper’s house. CLLS restores, preserves and maintains three lighthouses on Lake Superior and ensures public access to these historic sites.
The strong winds and cold temperatures have created a micro-climate on the island where arctic plants thrive. I photographed a wide range of lichen and miniature trees along with delicate flowering bushes.
Old Man’s Beard lichen dangles from trees in the forest.
Monarch butterflies on their migration south pause and savour the nectar from a large lilac bush near the point.
Birds call and swoop from the swaying treetops.
When we arrived at the house, and I saw the rocky outcroppings drenched by waves and sun, with the Sleeping Giant resting in the distance, I knew I had found my home away from home.