A thousand gold-tipped arrow shafts are just beginning to surface on Island Lake as the rising sun casts its light on the eastern horizon. The surrounding area of Island Lake is home to a variety of species, including those that live within it. At daybreak, the lake’s residents awaken and startle each other, making ripples appear on the lake as they go about their daily life. The chirping and singing of birds can be heard in the distance as the new day dawns. As I relax my eyes and tune into the soft and soothing sounds of nature and wildlife, my mind begins to drift as I am cocooned in peace and quiet. In the wild, one may notice a green frog or a red-winged blackbird calling out rhythmically. Your senses are likely to be heightened and open in the wilderness. The natural aroma possesses a sweet, fresh, and slightly earthy scent, in addition to a piny, woody scent that motivates me to seek out nature in greater depth. I get even more in tune with nature and the things around me, which encourages me to become even more active. The answer to finding absolute perfection is found in the state of perfect harmony.
To provide hikers with a visually and cognitively scenic journey of discovery, the 8-kilometer Vicki Barron Lakeside Trail was designed to use various wooden bridges and aggregate and sand pathways. Trail users may encounter many different viewpoints on the lake and its surroundings. The sight of all the wonderful things I see while I walk often gets me interested in finding out where those things came from, which piques my curiosity and inspires wonder and awe. As I watch the ever-twisting tunnels of deciduous, leafy pine trees, I repeatedly stop and freeze. Even after looking in the depths of the woods, I still daydream about the classic tale of Red Riding Hood. For centuries, a depiction of a large, ferocious wolf arriving to terrorize a young girl has been a prevalent metaphor for fear and stress. On the other hand, however, this place is devoid of any indications of fear or stress, but instead elicits feelings of amazement and delight as I traverse it.
By the 4-kilometer mark, I take a moment to admire the scenery of a small, grassy area that stretches all the way to the shore of Island Lake. A red-winged blackbird, struck by bewilderment, perches on the bench. While he was intrigued by what I was holding, his expression seems to indicate that he was used to seeing my kind. To avoid startling him, I gingerly sit on the bench and fix the camera’s focus on him. Even though I planned for the perfect photo, I restrain myself and discover that only when something is spontaneous can you truly appreciate its greatness. The dazzling red and black plumage entice me, and I didn’t realize I had placed my smartphone aside. If I could be a bird for a short period, I would love to soar above the Earth, watching humanity with an impartial eye. He jumps into the grass and scours the terrain for earthworms, one jump at a time. In addition to working tirelessly, he dives, crawls, and stretches all the way to the ground and fishes one out. The worm writhes in the bird’s beak as it writhes on the hook. I pitied the worm at that moment, because he must be in excruciating pain as he dies. There is nothing I can do to prevent the processes of nature from occurring.
With a much-needed rest in my legs, I set out again. On every step of the way, it was like I was embarking on a new adventure. On occasions, I encountered other hikers who were kind enough to acknowledge my presence while I was out here. I frequently took time to look at the fishermen fishing on the shore or on their boats when I crossed each bridge. Some visitors arrived on their own boats or canoes and made their way around the lake looking for a moment of solitude and exploration. I completed my 8-kilometer hike, and as I approached the end of the trail, I felt great satisfaction and a responsibility to preserve the environment.
My exhaustion is so great that I have chosen to recline by the lake’s edge. When I cast my gaze out into the world, I look into the watery depths. The graceful shimmering body of a green-winged teal duck when it wades in water causes ripples on the water’s surface. In the cove, a group of Canada geese are basking in the spring sunlight while grooming their loose, water-repellent feathers. My son creates ripples on the water by tossing a peddle in the distance. It looks like the ripples are dancing as they reach the final point. All looks great on the surface, but then reality sets in. As of now, giant hogweed (Ipomoea hederacea) has been observed to be established in this area. Predatory species are few here, whereas non-predatory species are numerous. The truth is that nothing is perfect, regardless of how perfect it seems. As far as my current position is concerned, I am confronted with two different possibilities: I can sit here and do nothing, or I can contribute something to protecting the natural beauty of the world. Well, that choice is obvious to me.
There is something quite magical about the Island Lake Conservation Area, illustrating a lot of people’s wild imaginations. This location will transport you to a quiet world away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whatever your chosen method of evasion may be, the parks offer a variety of activities that match your schedule. Frankly, plan or not, just go with the flow.
Many thanks to the dedicated park workers for maintaining the parks in pristine condition. Thank you for serving Ontario residents.
Guest blog written by Sara Akib