Paula Jongerden

Paula Jongerden's pioneering crossing of Lake Erie from Presque Isle (Erie, USA) to Long Point, and her dedication to nature as a member of the Board of the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve, stimulated many tributes. The following poem is just one of them. The references to the Angel of Long Point are to a legendary lady, Abigail Becker, who is credited with the rescue of sailors whose sailing ships were driven ashore by gales around Long Point.

Long Point Dreams
A Biosphere tribute to Paula Jongerden

Trumpeter Swans will herald the Spring,
As geese fill the fields and young finches sing.
The seasons will change as the carillon rings
To the circle of life and all that it brings.

Lake Erie's protected, but its riches soon called
And the wiles of Man mastered its tumbling falls.
Though he sailed to the west, his sails and his mast
Were often destroyed by the lake's sudden blast.

And its fingers of land, reaching out from the north,
Formed havens of rest for flights to and forth,
For Monarchs and birds to rest and refuel,
As the stars they command their migratory rule.

The waters were sweet and pleasant the land,
Its beauty complete at Nature's command,
'Til man sailed the seas, as the balladeers told
How he plundered its woodlands, its minerals and gold.

In past days, the land we could rape and move on
Now our lifestyles have changed - just look what we've done.
For we've grown so in numbers, in our dwellings we stay.
We're no longer a part of that nomadic way.

Insects torment us, so we use DDT
Then our Chemical Age produced PCB.
The Great Lakes have suffered Man's chemical mess
But a few they have strived this mess to redress.

There's an angel on Long Point, as sailors oft' told
How she saved them from terror, from gales, and from cold.
From her cabin in the dunes, where her life was so blessed,
She waded through waves and brought sailors to rest.

Now long gone are the days of the famed Abigail
But still folk bond together, so that Good will prevail.
So groups they will form and fight for dreams they hold dear
And so with the Long Point and its friend . . . Biosphere.

And so she did dream, our modern Abigail,
To support the Biosphere and ne'er think to fail
To swim the breadth of Lake Erie from its distant south shore
To the dunes of the Long Point - some twenty-eight miles or more.

The raising of funds - an environmental goal
What no one has swum - to dig deep in one's soul.
So a team it was formed, to nurture that dream
A team with a trust - so focused and keen.

Three weeks into August, two thousand and two
From Presque Isle they set forth, that brave swimmer and crew.
To battle the mind, the winds and the waves
To challenge the body and the rest that it craves.

To swim through the day, then all through the night
To the morning next day, before land is in sight.
To overcome sickness, the cold, and fatigue
To dig deep in your soul where none else has been.

To seek for a feeling of ease and content,
To achieve relaxation beyond the devil's torment,
To find peace in your soul while your body's in pain,
Now to understand Zen - thoughts you'll always retain.

To create your own dream. To start from a shore.
To overcome pain - replenished once more.
To pull on the water some ten thousand times
Then repeat every movement another six times.

Urged on by the shouts through the cascading waves
You reach for more strength to exit this maze.
Then you contact the stones on the spit's sandy shore.
The ordeal it is over - no more swimming - no more.

Now all wrapped in blankets, and lying at rest
Relaxed and content, you've passed your own test.
For you reached for the stars. You formed your own dream,
And the strength of your soul reinforced by a team.

There's a nurse there in Hagersville, who's tender and kind
With a love of all nature, and with pure strength of mind,
And like the angel of Long Point, we'll remember back when
The Biosphere community thanked Paula Jongerden.

© jbf
2nd November 2002

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Created: 3rd November 2002
Last Updated: 20th March 2003