Part I: Preamble
It has been more than a fortnight since I visited the park and wrote for this blog. A fortnight that saw some very nasty weather (I think I might be a fair-weather hiker), a significant health set-back (surgical infection), and a major computer glitch (I lost all my documents – this is actually the second edition of “One Hundred Million Midges”). To everyone who is supporting me on this journey back to good health, I very sincerely apologise for the gap, and thank you for all the lovely messages of concern.
I awake this morning to brilliant sunshine blazing through my shutters and know this could be a Presqu’ile day. Could be. The time away from the park has filled me anew with doubts and, if I’m honest, a little panic as I contemplate this plan. Cam is off to Baxter, happy as a clam, and tells me to have fun at the park today. I know I am going now for sure; of all the things that scare me, letting him down is the only one that truly matters.
Part II: Lunch
This project is about recuperation and recovery and there are many elements involved in this process. Today I am planning to add nutrition to my Presqu’ile regime. This means advance planning, shopping, prep and, of course, allowing time to pack said lunch!!! I am told by my doctors and nutritionists that a proper diet will soon have me feeling better and more energetic. Although I know this to be true, their reiteration draws badly needed focus from me and it is about time!
True Confession: On my way to the park, I drive through Colborne where there is a very (too?) conveniently located Timmy’s. My routine (is twice a routine?) is to hit the drive-thru, order a coffee and sandwich, and carry on to Presqu’ile. Although both are yummy and a bit of a treat, neither fall into the concept of “clean” eating so today my promise to myself is that I will pack a healthy lunch. Today it is to be Toasted Avocado which is, in fact, one of my favourites, almost comfort food: Toast, veganaise, an avocado, lemon juice and black pepper. An apple and a pear for afters and water to wash it all down. It means carrying a paring knife and cutting board to prepare the avocado, but our insulated bag is huge and I won’t be carrying it on my hike – I plan to eat lunch near the lighthouse afterwards. I pack it all up, with lots of ice packs to protect the veganaise, and I am ready for today’s adventure.
It is gloriously warm and sunny today, perhaps the first real spring weather we’ve had so far. I can’t help smiling as I drive away from the house, windows open humming along with Marshall, one the tunes on my new favourite playlist. A new route too… Not needing Timmy’s I can bypass Colborne which saves time so I am very quickly approaching the park gates and my pal Evan. He recognizes L’Oeuf and is waving me through and calling out a welcome before I can flash him my pass. Another smile. Life is good, non?
Part III: Hike
My nephro knows that I have been itching to resume my hiking and knows that today is meant to be the day. He has “encouraged” me to have another short walk to make sure I am not overly fatigued while still shaking off the infection. Conning the park map, I decide that today’s route will be the Owen Point Trail which, from the map, appears to be a relatively flat, path that follows the contour of the west shoreline of the spit as far as High Bluff/Owen Point. Just beyond Owen Point are two islands; Gull and High Bluff, both off-limits as they are nesting/resting grounds for migrating birds. With a good lens, one can capture some interesting pictures. This is my goal. I’ve read the literature and know that respect of the birds is paramount. As I drive into the nearest parking area, I am only the second car so I know it will be lovely and quiet. I slip into my runners (to better deal with the beach sand), grab my gear, my water bottle and am ready for another grand adventure. I happily and enthusiastically set off across the boardwalk that starts the Owen Point Trail…
It is immediately apparent that my preconceptions were entirely wrong. Whilst running parallel to the beach, the trail at no time veers onto the sand, cutting instead through thick brush comprised of stringy young cedars, alders, pussy willows and phragmites. The path is both earthen and sod in places and mostly very damp and slippery. Lots of mud.
Part IV: Bugs
Here, in the enclosed (breezeless) very damp trail, with the sun blazing down there is a very high humidex, and, horrors, a hundred million midges. They are everywhere, thick swarms of them, at times making it seem like an overcast day. They are landing on everyone and everything; are on my precious camera, on my arms, hands, legs, feet, clothing, in my hair, in my ears, on my face and yes, even in my mouth.
“OhmigoshOhmigoshOHMIGOSH! I. H.A.T.E. B.U.G.S. !!!”
I am completely overwhelmed. They apparently live only a short time and have one purpose – to mate and reproduce. This, then, is a massive orgy? Giant clouds of fornicating bugs? This is meant to make me feel better? Evan! You’ll have to do better than that!!!
Here’s the thing: Although creepy (I’m still itching as I type this blog entry) and disgusting and intensely annoying, they do not bite and eventually I soldier on with the promise of a major audio and visual reward at the point.
Part V: Owen Point Trail
As the trail unwinds, there are several Lookouts, paths to the edge of the beach where there are roped-off observation areas from which bird life can be viewed and photographed.
I know I am close to the point now because the cacophony of waterfowl fills the air, growing louder and more intense by the minute. I finally arrive at the southern tip of the spit, known as Owen Point. The view is amazing; it is like sitting in the dress circle of the balcony at the O’Keefe Centre and watching a grande ballet. There is music, there is movement – the soaring and swooping as graceful as any ballerina’s movement. I am entranced and enthralled. I find myself a lovely piece of driftwood, sit, unpack my gear and spend a lovely couple of hours enjoying the birds of Presqu’ile.
1. There are two ingredients in my treatments that conspire against me. The drug I receive that boosts my kidney production is suspended in a glucose compound. For “glucose” please read “high-calorie”. The second harmful ingredient is the steroid additive. In combination, on a regular treatment schedule, these two chemicals are relatively benign. When my kidneys fail, when I am dialysed every day, the cumulative effect is weight gain, something I have battled all my life. When the cause is beyond my control, I feel emotionally defeated. Wrecked. Hopeless. This is why the nutritional component of my recovery is so very important.
2. Fast forward to my exit from the park several hours later, and a free Entomology lesson from the amazing Evan. Although they look like small mosquitoes, the swarming bugs are midges, freshly awakened from their winter dormancy in the muddy bottom of Lake Ontario by the warm humid weather. Which they love. In fact, love is in the air — literally. Swarms of mating bugs creating black clouds which, although most prominent along the waterfront, have been seen inland as well. True that outdoor athletes are disgusted by these bugs, they do serve an important purpose: They’re food for birds, bats and dragonflies. Evan is thrilled with them; I just may have to reevaluate my friendship with the lad…