Saturday, August 25, 2012

Slice of summer: A magical night unfolds along Edinboro Lake - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

In Pittsburgh, we get our water in the fast-moving form of three rivers. A lake is a completely different form of water art. A lake can be a lullaby.

Edinboro Lake, 105 miles north of Pittsburgh and just short of Erie, is a tranquil spot for fishing, water-skiing and swimming from its small, sandy Pat Crawford Beach. This season, the geese population was largely deterred by a green, mesh fence, an improvement from recent years when too many bird droppings had made the water inhospitable.

The atmosphere around the lake can be as refreshing as a cold glass of lemonade on the front porch, and that's what many visitors and residents do at cottages that populate the neighborhood near the beach. Many of these buildings started out as mail-order homes from Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward. Over the years, some have been neglected, while others have been expanded and improved. When Labor Day comes, students from nearby Edinboro University of Pennsylvania move in.

On a recent weekend, a dose of good timing transformed a typical, laid-back evening into one that was magical and memorable. A large swath of privately owned lakefront land was host to a big party -- curious vacationers figured it was a wedding. Large, white tents and well-dressed guests could be spotted through the thick trees, and a good, and very loud, band was playing a nice mix of danceable music.

Then the light show began. The first sign was a single, small beacon, rising up from the shore and out over the water. Then another. And another. Made of rice paper and bamboo, these sky lanterns function like mini hot-air balloons. A continuous stream of them decorated the nighttime sky for an hour, with as many as a dozen individual lights visible at a time and looking very much like some new, low-level constellation.

Then they were swallowed by the lake, the quiet ending of a beautiful summer night.

"Slice of Summer" will appear through Sept. 1 to highlight pastimes that Western Pennsylvanians enjoy throughout the season.

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