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Three waterways, three regions make for a busy week

Take time to disconnect from a busy life once in a while is important.

As of late, it feels like my bed is my only resting place.

The bed has been in my house, in the back of my Jeep, or in a beautiful cottage on the shores of Lake Huron.

How did this all happen within a week, while simultaneously showing up for a full-time job? The answer is carefully and with delight. I drew a giant triangle on southern Ontario and covered it from all angles.

I was situated in Niagara as always, but I was also beyond fortunate to spend quality time in Norfolk and Huron counties for tours, speaking gigs, and some valued family time. Let’s start with a crazy 48 hours for the books.

I was at work with the school board, with a class of keen and exploratory Kindergarten kids. Their imaginations run wild as their fascinations dig into the very soil they are exploring. We planted pollinator plants and investigated the microcosm world of life under logs with magnifying glasses. The kids are sweet and fun, but they command your energy and focus all day.

So when you get an email from someone who wants to go out on a canoe tour that afternoon, you pull up your energy socks and you make it happen. My Jeep was in the shop at this time for a mechanical issue, so I was suddenly in a whirlwind of trading three vehicles and hitches amongst my mom and dad in order to find a way to hook up my vehicle properly for the trailer and canoes. If that sounds confusing, it’s because it was.

Thanks to my parents, I was able to scrounge up the right vehicle and hitch, across the peninsula to Fort Erie, and make a successful canoe tour happen. My guest and I watched terns — a slimmer and more athletic version of a seagull — dive-bomb the water for fish while the stressful rush of my day dissolved into the creek’s placid waters. Sometimes, it’s amazing how running my tours is the most therapeutic and easy-going part of my week.

My day was only on Chapter Two, though. I still had to get home and write an article for this paper, which is a facet of my weekly life I am always truly excited to do. Trouble is, I was almost out of gas. I completed the article on time, ate dinner in bed like a teenager at 11:30 p.m., and had to mentally prepare myself for Kindergarten kids and a 3.5 hour drive after work the next day.

I woke up ready to rock — I had no choice. My Jeep would be fixed and ready for pickup after a day of work with the tiny and energetic children, and then I’d begin my drive to an area near Kincardine for an evening presentation about thru-hiking the 890-kilometre Bruce Trail, one of my favourite talks to give. To make things interesting, the Jeep wasn’t quite ready after work, and it was my planned bed for the overnight trip. Time for my mom and dad to save the day yet again with a vehicle switch up!

The endless straight roads of Huron County are vapid and bountiful all at once. At sunset, Ontario’s bread and beef basket glows a humbling warmth, the shades of orange painting a landscape of Amish tradition and hard family work on the land. On some stretches, I saw more horse and buggies than I did cars or trucks. I felt grounded, despite the mad dash to make this drive even possible.

Like most of rural Ontario, the hospitality that evening was top tier and unwavering. At least two couples from the crowd offered for me to stay at their place or camp in their backyard. Luckily, this lovely resort called Camp Kintail allowed me to stay in one of their cabins on the lakeshore, with a hot shower, kitchen, and bed all to myself. I microwaved cheeseburgers I bought in plastic wrapping at a nearby gas station, to give you a sense of the time crunch I was riding on. My goodness, they were delicious at 10 p.m. though. Even dog food would have qualified as a delicious meal at this rate.

Cruising back into Niagara, I saw cut-off signs to areas of Lake Erie that I frequent for recreational purposes as well as filming the final shots of my upcoming Hidden Corners: Canadian Erie nature documentary. It was hard to believe that just a week ago my parents, some friends and I were camping along the pristine woods and beaches of the Long Point area for Mother’s Day weekend.

In between all of these outings, I also managed to tour guests on a remote creek in Wainfleet and a stream system of Fort Erie, where we saw a bald eagle, a massive snapping turtle, beavers, and gold finches performing their aerial dances along the shoreline.

The wildlife and human encounters I had over that hectic week make me feel happy, to the point where joy outweighs the fatigue — and doesn’t allow it to set in. Although belated, I ultimately owe it to my mom, Steffanie Bjorgan, for a Mother’s Day appreciation moment. Between supplying vehicles, good advice and fun during busy times, nobody does it quite like her.

Also, I’m not sure who needs to hear and read this right now, but don’t ever let burnout get the better of you. You will always have people and strategies in life to make things easier, and you should never be afraid to reach out for help, or give yourself permission to disconnect and do something for yourself.

This week, nature and family have reminded me of that.