I know of a place where I feel free, wild, and buffered from the everyday. A place that allows me to become still. This place is Gull Island, a little flat pile of rocks and windblown driftwood just off the north shore of Lake Ontario.
To get there this time of year requires a wade through chilly Lake Ontario waters in hip waders, in wavy water up above my knees. But it is so worth it.
Starting in mid November each year, Gull Island is host to some dazzling visitors from the Arctic – Snowy Owls. Some Snowy Owls come south each winter to find food, and can be found on the shores and islands of the Great Lakes, where they can eat abundant waterfowl as well as local rodents.
When I find one of these magnificent creatures, time stands still. I just sit down and watch. It’s like being in a different world.
Yesterday my trek to Gull Island was incredible. The midday sky was pink to the south, as the sun tried to emerge from the hazy fog over the lake. The female Snowy Owl that I found rested, preened, hunted, and watched over her rocky territory. Alone with just her, I sat for two hours. My mind slowed down, finally. I needed this.
Maybe you have a spot where you love to escape. If you can’t physically go there, maybe you can go there by visualizing it. I know there is no way I can go to Gull Island today, as the wind is howling and the waves will be high, making the passage across the water impossible. But I have these images I captured there, and my imagination, to take me back there whenever I like.
Leslie November, 2019