It’s a beautiful day, sunny and warm with a fresh breeze. I know where I want to be and leave the house within an hour of getting up. I’m headed for the islands.
I get to the ferry terminal well in time for the 11 o’clock ferry. This is a good thing, because a bed of tulips catch me, stun me with their beauty. They are aglow with the light of the still-low sun, each single one looking like a cup of sunshine
Once on the ferry, I go to the opposite end, the part that faces our destination and wait just inside the gate, impatient to get to my little bit of paradise. One of the first off the ferry, I head towards Olympic Island to sit in the spot that shows you all of Toronto. It’s too early in the year for others to have discovered this place again and I almost have this entire small Island to myself. I look out over the grassy park, spotted by large aged trees. This is bliss. And the view is phenomenal, showing the city in all its glory. I live in a very beautiful place.
I notice small birds scurrying around in the grass and look closer. They are brownheaded cowbirds and I have never seen them anywhere but the Spit. There are four of them, one female and three males, and I begin to realize that there is a drama going on. One of the males seems to believe that he is bonded to the female, which may very well be the case, but she’s too busy running to indicate clearly. The other two males are trying to persuade her otherwise. Every now and again, the bonded male turns around, spreads his wings, and looks scary.
I move on to the farm, doing the rounds of all the pens. This early in the season, not all have arrived from their wintering refuge north of the city, but most are here. I say hello to the giant pig that is, as usual, lying close to the fence. I think she does that to be comfortable, while being able to keep an eye on visitors. The barn cats are huddling under the stairs, watching for bugs and birds, still fluffed up with a thick winter coat. And naturally, I have to go by the large pen over on the right to see Buttercup the Jersey cow and get my foot licked. Today she licks my hands, as well, her tongue slobbery and rough.
On the way out, I get sidetracked by watching two male peacocks jockeying for position and the attention of the female peacock. Both have found a tree in which to perch, long feathery tails decorously draped over a branch behind them. I wonder how they managed to get up there — surely, the tail would make it hard to fly? Every now and again, they both screech loudly and preen.
Having checked that all is well at the farm, I go south. My intention is to head up the straight path filled with flowerbeds, but I’m sidetracked by the sight of trees in bloom. Cherry trees, I think, and having no plans for the craziness that is the annual Sakura cherry blossom extravaganza in High Park, I take the opportunity to enjoy the delicate pink petals with no competition.
It’s time to move on, the pier is calling. The closer I get, the more swallows are in the air. They flit and dive, then fly into the air again, chasing bugs. One of them swoops so close to my face I can feel the air from its wings. When I get to the pier, I see more of them, swooping down below and somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I remember that swallows nest under piers. I watch them, then I watch the water below me, and then I look out over the lake.
I grew up in Denmark, a country where lakes are small enough that you can always see the other side, but this one’s different. This one looks like the ocean — nothing but blue water as far as the eye can see and completely unbroken by land. This is where my eyes feel at home, watching this large body of water moving rhythmically towards the shore, nothing getting in the way of seeing that far horizon meet the lighter blue of the sky.
I walk along the shore, watching the neverending changeability of sand and trees and grass and water and sky. I get to the dune, the one that’s protected, and turn in on the boardwalk that moves through tall grasses until the sand stops my progress.
I sit, I listen, I watch.
There something about this place that makes the muscles of my eyes relax, as if this is what we are supposed to look at: nature, green, blue, softness, rounded. I think of how, when going home, I watch the city come into view, feeling my eyes adjust to squares and straight lines, and the feeling being close to a kind of pain.
I dream of one day living here or a place like it. Dream of spending my days watching the water, listening to the wind and the grasses, the sound of the waves, the birds, and the bugs, and feeling the wind in my hair.
This is home.
Lene writes the award-winning blog The Seated View. She’s the author of Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain and 7 Facets: A Meditation on Pain.