Joy in 2022: Hammock Happenings and Manitoulin Magic

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m still processing 2022. 2023 can wait a bit longer!

2022 rocked me in more ways than I’m prepared to list. I truly don’t know how I would have survived without my friends and community care. Nonetheless, I managed to photograph some truly magical moments throughout the year.

I am deeply grateful for the many wonders I experienced in the midst of what sometimes felt like non-stop curveballs. Profound kindness; unexpected moments of connection; sunrises; sunsets; hammocking under a blanket of stars in the crisp spring air; listening to distant loons while falling asleep on the beach; and that time a beautiful yellow bird (a Philadelphia Vireo) landed so close he was practically on my head… I could go on and on.

This first collage of images are all from London, Ontario.
Read on for stories and images descriptions.

1. After an intense thunderstorm, this tiny bright green frog slid along the zipper of my hammock before perching atop my black cooler bag in the dark of the night.

2. On a windy morning, I snapped this photo looking directly up at the blue sky from amidst a grove of trees at St. Peter’s Seminary. Four tree trunks stretch skyward, alongside multiple tree tops.

3. One morning when I was hammocking near Sanctuary London’s food forest, I woke up in time to witness this spectacular sunrise. I grabbed my camera, rushed out of my hammock, and started snapping photos.

I know that years of community tending have led to the robust food forest in the foreground of this image. A tall stadium light shows evidence of the baseball diamond which is mostly hidden behind the food forest. Large deciduous trees tower at the edges of the park.

The colours in this photo are simply magnificent! The bright sun had just risen above the lowest trees in the distance. Yellow streaks of light emanate closest to it, then orangey-pink, then a neon pink, and finally above the tallest trees the sky became awash in lavender.

4. A thick tree stump covered in bark rests in a garden bed of wood chips. Directly in front of it, a yellow-ish orange bird (a female Oriole) strides purposefully and swiftly. She appears to be in a rush to attend to some sort of very important business.

5. An adorable female house sparrow is looking directly ahead, pausing to check her surroundings as she searches for food. She is on the ground in the middle of a low lying juniper bush. Several sprigs of green clover are poking through the foliage in front of her. This photo brings back fond memories of watching house sparrows who were nesting about a foot away from my hammock for a few weeks during the summer.

6. I witnessed this final London image at Fanshawe Conservation Area as I looked out across the Thames River, through the silhouettes of deciduous leaves. It was early in the morning and the sun had risen halfway above the forest along the opposite shore. In this sunrise the gradient shifted subtly from yellow, to orange, and finally pink. The reflective water visible through the leaves sparkled vibrantly in contrast to the soft sky.

This collage is of images from the West end of Manitoulin Island.

7. Kagawong is a beautiful little municipality that I adore. I spent this fall in Kagawong and enjoyed a few peaceful days at this beautiful beach. Coniferous trees border the far end of the sandy beach as it curves to a nearby point in the water. In the fading sunset, the sky transitions from a soft yellow, through pink, and finally blue, before being mirrored in the still water.

8. A friend and I went kayaking in Pleasant Valley on Thanksgiving weekend. After watching a Great Blue Heron for a bit, it was fun to get a closer view. As it soared above us through the clear blue sky, I twisted in my kayak seat and snapped this photo seconds before it sailed over the brightly coloured autumn deciduous trees.

9. Misery Bay is the furthest I’ve been West on the island yet… going here this fall was very exciting. I had been hearing about it’s beauty since before I left London in August 2021. Misery Bay did not disappoint! And yes, I overdid it and had a massive symptom flare after. I should have turned around part way rather than doing the full “short” loop. I’ve decided that I need to find a super light portable chair for seated breaks throughout hikes; let me know if you’ve found something like this that works well. I also should have set up my hammock for a rest earlier than I did… lessons for next time. But damn it was an amazing adventure!

The solitary thin green stem is barely visible amidst a foreground of dry reedy brown stems. Yet the delicate violet hued bluebell stands out majestically atop it, in full bloom despite the late October chill. The ground in the background is dark bedrock with soft green moss covering large areas it. Bright sunlight adds sparkle throughout the photo.

This collage is of images from North Eastern Manitoulin and Islands.

10. Little Current is the biggest city on Manitoulin Island… it’s still tiny, but it has all the amenities within five kilometres, making it a delightfully bikeable and walkable community. On a sunny fall day I noticed a small plant with red berries growing out of the cement in the water at the edge of the harbour. Deep blue water stretches out into the distance where the Little Current swing bridge separates the water from the blue sky.

11. Sheguiandah (mentioned in One Way Bike Camping) is on the North Eastern end of Manitoulin. This bay photo taken about 5 minutes before sunrise is one of my favourites from the spring. The colours have a soft and gentle feel to them with a thin line of reddish orange fading to yellow before enveloping it in greyish blue. Mid photo the horizon line shows where the sky meets the calm sheet like water that mirrors it. On the right a silhouetted forest of trees stretch into the water, the gradual thinning of trees narrow and combine with their reflection in the water to form an arrow. Surrounding and paralleling the tree arrow is an arrow shaped cloud, which points directly at a small silhouetted duckling family mid photo. In the upper left corner of the sky is a soaring silhouetted seagull.

12. It doesn’t feel like Christmas for me without a snowy bike ride! In the midst of a symptom flare this year, my energy was low and I knew I couldn’t go far without harming my health. Lucky for me, there are picturesque spots like Goat Island within a few kilometres. Having beautiful places close by means that I can get out to enjoy nature more often than would otherwise be possible when chronic illness symptoms are flaring.

Several centimetres of fresh snow had recently fallen. But for a single set of tire tracks, the unplowed side road looked like a giant fluffy pillow. Several leafless deciduous trees could be seen to the left of the road, increasingly so in the distance. Bare ground revealed where had snow rolled down the steep hill. To the right, the serene snowy expanse was dotted with a handful of small, but inviting evergreen trees. In the distance, several clouds melded into a large mass; in contrast, the sky in the foreground was completely cloudless. The sun had begun to dip closer to the horizon, positioning the insistent light in just the right place to sneak through every tiny break in the clouds.

I didn’t notice them as I rode, but when I stopped to take in the view from Goat Island a large flock of birds took off from the tree above me. They danced collectively over the icy water before disappearing into the distance. I’m grateful for these moments of beauty and wonder in the midst of cold dark days.

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