A flurry of activity—take the plastic cover off the boat, disassemble the wooden frame, stow it in the shed at Port Credit, load our winter fenders and electrical cords and ski jackets and water jugs and other things we won’t need on the island into the car, one last check, anything we missed? Then we undo the dock lines and sail away.
And now we’re here, on what feels like my own private island at this time of year. Well not exactly private—the people who live on the island have been here all along, of course, but there aren’t very many of them and they go about their day to day life in a quiet way. No throngs of day trippers yet, is what I mean.
In the early morning, I have the beach to myself. Well, actually, Bica and I share it with a dragon, but he’s a harmless enough creature, just sits there peacefully, looking out over the breakwater, remembering the days when could breathe fire, now long gone. Wishing he had his front legs back. I pat his head as we pass, he’s our old friend, been on the beach since we came to the island three years ago.
We’re not the only ones who are back. As we walk along the boardwalk I can hear the sounds of hundreds of cormorants scrapping for nesting spots across the channel on the Leslie Street Spit. Noisy creatures, and they have denuded the trees with their droppings. Not my favourite birds.
But some of my favourites are back already. Red-winged blackbirds, swallows, white-throated sparrows. This morning I heard a yellow warbler—not a yellow-coloured warbler, as so many of them are, but the species lucky enough to have been named yellow warbler. Clearly spring migration has started. Note to myself: don’t go walking without my binoculars.
But I don’t need binoculars to see how the island is slowly cleaning itself up. Dead limbs disappear from trees, replaced by a neat pile of wood chippings. Dead leaves are suddenly just gone. Waste and recycling bins appear in convenient places. I know the park staff actually does this work, but Bica and I are out walking before they get started, so we just see the results of the previous day’s labour. It seems like magic.
Overnight, carpets of blue flowers have suddenly sprung up and the forsythia has burst into flower. But I think I’m most excited to see the Island Café slowly reassembling itself. The patios are washed clean now, outdoor furniture has started to appear, rhubarb is coming up in the garden. It can’t be long now before it opens and I can pick up a hot cup of coffee on the way back from my walk. And maybe a rhubarb muffin fresh from the oven.
I feel like I’ve come home.