After such a long time I’m beginning to question the wisdom of referring to this blog as a “recovery journal” as there is no sign of recuperation; not recorded in my medial chart nor noticeable on my person. More’s the pity. Cam and I are at a new level of frustration.
It has been a very long time since my last blog entry, since my last day off the dreaded dialysis machine and since I’ve paid a visit to my beloved Presqu’ile. Feeling completely disillusioned with the seemingly ineffective hospital routine and having been ditched (true story) by my community care driver, I felt in desperate need of the peace I feel at Presqu’ile. It seemed imperative (to me, at least – to Cam, not so much) that a trip to the park on the way to the hospital was my only possible option.
Presqu’ile Goes Posh
As soon as I arrived, I realized a lot had changed since my last visit…
- As I roll up to the very obviously unmanned gatehouse, I sadly realize Evan has gone back to school.
- At least ninety percent of the leaves have fallen, which is an obvious observation, but their absence really opens the forest making the trails much lighter and the hikers clearly visible from the parkway.
- Judging from the signboards scattered about, the volunteer fundraiser “Christmas at Presqu’ile” has come and gone – is December already upon us?
- The Lake Ontario water level is alarmingly low.
- There is tarmac…
Fresh, wide, black and very smooth Tarmac!
Presqu’ile Parkway has been reborn with a new and very serious-looking coat of asphalt. Gone are the myriad potholes, many of which were cleverly disguised L’Oeuf-sized craters. Gone now and replaced with this slick, smooth, racecourse-like surface, protected by speed humps and adorned with fancy new signage. It’s (horrifyingly) like the entrance to one of those clever, planned, adult-lifestyle communities where Stepford-like seniors live in smug self-satisfaction. Yes, I am a little intimidated.
I’m sure the majority of park patrons will appreciate the smooth pavement over the cavity-ridden lane that ensured we would pass through the pannes at a sedate pace, absorbing all its pleasures – sights and sounds – but not me. For one thing, now that the “dodge the crater” game is over, the speed of the vehicles has really picked up; where is everyone headed in such a tearing hurry, I wonder? What is going on in the park that is so time-sensitive, I wonder? What if a child or animal runs out onto the parkway, I wonder?
My usual leisurely pace is clearly annoying the driver of the pick-up truck behind me who, if he got any closer, would actually be pushing me. I deked off onto the shoulder (AKA bike lane), let him zoom by, ignored the salute and resumed my plodding. Progress, even at Presqu’ile, is not always positive.
Most leaves have fallen and have created a deliciously dry, crunchy, rustly massive carpet that covers the peninsula, imbuing the air with that perfect autumn aroma. This perfection lasts such a short time – a few weeks at most – before the winds blow the leaves away or they become sodden with rain and melting snow. Not, however, on November 13 – on that day it was ideal. I parked L’Oeuf about a mile from the southern tip and walked the rest of the way, happily scuffing and kicking my way through the leaves, thoroughly enjoying the susurration, ignoring the odd looks I was getting from the park visitors warmly ensconced in their vehicles. I am ten again, romping through Edward’s Gardens with Dad, both of us unheeding of my best Sunday frock and shoes and of the semi-serious frown on Mum’s face. Bliss.
“Warmly ensconced” because although the thermometer registers 3°C the wind chill factor is fierce; after barely two minutes, my hands are aching with the cold (gloves safely stored in L’Oeuf where they offer no comfort whatsoever). When I reach the beach I am the only walker and if I thought I was cold on the trail, I feel frozen out in the open on the sand. No regrets. I am glad I have made the walk because I am seeing Lake Ontario at the lowest level I have ever observed and am glad to be able to document this discovery. In the following picture you can see a line in the sand created by the two tones; that line is the normal water level.
Just off the north beach is an enormous boulder. It is well-used in the summer: Imaginatively incorporated into the activities of young pirates, a climbing/jumping attraction for the much braver adolescents, and for the more sedate, a photo-op Copenhagen Mermaid-styles. Although I’ve never climbed onto it, I’ve swum by it many times and the water was typically hip or waist deep. The water today is choppy and there is no sun so it is difficult to see clearly, but today at the base of the rock, the water is barely a foot deep.
Enough! I can barely feel my fingers now so I make a mad dash back to L’Oeuf to get warmed up. I’m sure the temperature has dropped at least ten degrees but no, L’Oeuf confirms it is still plus 3°C. It must be wind-chill factor, right? It must!
Heater blasting, gloves on, I drive on to the lighthouse facility which is closed (read: deserted) today. I wander out to the point mainly because I have it all to myself – a first. Here too evidence of the lower lake level is apparent. Obviously there are rocks in the water; there’d be no need of a lighthouse if there weren’t. It’s just that they’re usually below the surface. Not so today. This discovery is unsettling: How can the water level be so low after such a wet summer? Where has it gone? Water is a resource we Canadians have had the luxury and privilege of taking for granted, should we so choose, all our lives. For me, this is a very visceral reminder that this natural resource is beyond price and fragile and finite.
My last stop on today’s park circuit is Jobes Woods Trail. I’ve not nearly enough time left to hike its length so I opt for the short 1km loop, desperately wanting to have a bit more time on the leafy carpet and to savor the prewinter prettiness of the forest.
There is a hush, due in no small part to the previous departure of many of the birds (only a few brave Robins remain). The trail begins with some boardwalk sections, presumably to guide the hikers comfortably into the woods on the first leg of their walks. Today as I step onto the boardwalk I am struck, most unfavourably, with how exposed the trail has become, and with the sight and sound of the vehicles traversing the park, not normally visible from the woods.
A very spiritual solitude and silence engulfs me – the perfect aura for meditation and invocation. As I walk I am getting my head straight and accepting the hand I’ve been dealt. The rudeness of my driver no longer matters and I am calmly prepared for another session at PRHC. This place – the park, the trails, the lakeshore, and the lagoon – this place is so very restorative and beautiful. While wondering why it is so very nearly empty, I give thanks for my cleansing experience today.
Presqu’ile, always a bit of a Peacock, delights in presenting a limitless palette of colour, delighting artists and photographers alike. Today, here in Jobes Woods I am struck by the vivid green of the moss (which is everywhere) collocated with the brown, dead leaves and bark – a natural, subtle beauty I cannot resist.
Poof! Just like that I am late for dialysis again. I am not sorry. My truancy has given me peace and contentment and I know that this trip was exactly what the doctor ordered (regardless of what is recorded in my medical chart).