Author and conservationist Rachel Carson writes “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature…the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
Last weekend I had the good fortune to be reminded of the healing power of nature as I attended the unveiling of the wheelchair accessible boardwalk at Petrel Point Nature Reserve which you can see in the photo collage above. You can also see two very dear friends of mine, Colin and Vi Bain. I have known the Bain’s for nearly 20 years. Colin was one of my best authors when I worked as Publisher at Oxford University Press. He and Vi would graciously invite me up to spend a few days with them at their peaceful cottage on Manitoulin Island.
In fact, each summer for over 10 years I anticipated my drive north to spend some much-needed peaceful friendship with Colin and Vi. They were the perfect hosts! They would give me a quiet space to just de-stress from a hectic work year. I loved sitting on their deck over-looking Lake Huron as my shoulders would gradually extricate themselves from my ears. On that deck you could hear birds singing, waves gently lapping on shore and the wind rustling the leaves of many trees. It was heavenly!
We would also go on great adventures around the island, led by an intrepid Vi who knew every road, plant and animal on the island. In the photo above you can see Vi with her wild orchids that bloomed by the cottage. It was her love of nature that brought Colin and I to Petrel Point last weekend. Both of us are missing Vi, who we lost to early onset Alzheimer’s just two short years ago. The wonderful folks at Ontario Nature (thank you Caroline Schultz, Executive Director, and Kirsten Dahl, Director of Development and pictured above) invited us to see the important work being done by donations such as Vi’s. We felt the spirit of Vi with us as we walked the fantastic new boardwalk at Petrel Point, which will be complete by Labour Day this year.
Vi would have loved that Ontario Nature is working to make this beautiful reserve more accessible through the widened boardwalk, which leads to a viewing platform for wild orchids, her favourite! Not unlike Manitoulin, this magical spot heals the heart and soul. It is quiet. So quiet you can hear the many species of birds chirping, the breeze rustling the leaves and your footsteps passing lightly on the boardwalk. It is the perfect place, as Rachel Carson writes, to “contemplate the beauty of the earth.”
If you want to learn more about the Petrel Point Nature Reserve, please visit Ontario Nature’s site. You can also learn more about our day from Zoe Kessler from the Wiarton Echo who covered the event. If you would love to find other such peaceful reserves near you, visit here, or please donate. This is good work that benefits everyone!