Lovers Creek is easy to overlook. While living in Alcona Beach near Lake Simcoe, I crossed it twice each workday, but unless you happened to turn your head at precisely the right moment, you would surely miss it. Though situated in a broad, flat meadow, the creek’s diminutive size, lack of an obvious bridge and flanks that were clothed in tall grasses – helped to keep it well hidden.
In winter, snowshoeing along its bank under a crystalline sky, listening to the sighing of the wind, occasionally punctuated by a far off corvid cacophany, certainly made dragging myself out of a warm, cozy bed worth the effort. Under the right conditions, embracing nature at this time of year can be transcendent experience.
Early one spring morning, I loaded my 12 foot Sportspal into (sort of) the 8 foot bed of my Nissan KingCab. Winter was still in evidence, for the banks of the creek sported narrow ledges of ice. Paddling north very slowly – and quietly – from Innisfil Beach Road, my ears were primed for any signs of life. After a long, silent winter, the anticipation of witnessing spring’s return was palpable. I’m sure I held my breath repeatedly. My stealthy progress did not reveal any early, migrating birds – but something much rarer. Running along the west bank – seemingly unaware of my presence – a brown-coloured mustelid was on its crepuscular foray for a tasty morsel. I sat motionless – watching it get ever closer. When it was almost abeam my canoe, it ventured out onto the ice ledge. Only then did it finally see me and stop dead in its tracks. For a brief moment we stared directly at each other. My camera was within easy reach, but any movement on my part would surely have sent the wee beastie heading for cover. What else could one do but say “Good morning”, and watch it hurriedly scurry away. Though the encounter lasted just a few heartbeats, I’ll never forget the joy and wonder of it all.
Another denizen of this watershed – the North American Beaver (Castor candensis) – was responsible for limiting my progress to about a kilometre north of the road. On the plus side, their dam probably made this small creek navigable in the first place. On one warm summer evening, one of the adults made it quite clear that I was not welcome – warning me with a mighty slap of its broad tail.
Summer was a glorious time to be on Lovers Creek. Once away from the road, the buzzing of bees, rustle of leaves and mellifluous birdsongs were all one would hear – the simple, haunting call of the Great Crested Flycatcher being a favourite. I recall one time in particular, when after rounding a bend that was slightly upstream of the dam, I stopped, set the paddle down beside me and sat back to marvel at all that was before me – the gently waving grasses; the lazy, sky-reflecting ripples that fanned out whenever I inadvertently rocked the canoe and a beautiful cloud formation that resembled a waterfall, suspended in an azure sky.
Peace, tranquility and a reverential view of Gaia’s world.