During a hike in the middle of the Canadian wilderness, I bumped into a guy I’d met on a plane going to London about 5 years previously.
I was in Algonquin Park. Just finishing up a quick hike – a break from driving down the highway looking for moose. We were returning to the car we’d parked in a lay-by on Highway 60 when I heard something come crashing through the woods.
I didn’t see the moose. But I did see the man who turned the corner of the path. Like us, he’d come up to the park in early April for a drive, a hike, and a little moose hunting.
Every spring, the moose come out of the deep wild looking for food and if you take a drive on the highway that bisects the park, you might see one. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a mother and her foal. You may see a car stopped a ways ahead. If you do, slow down; they’re probably stopped because they’ve seen a moose and they’ve all taken their cameras out to shoot.
“So did you marry her?” I asked him.
He stopped and looked at me. He smiled. “I did!” he said. “She’s right over here.”
And so I met his in-laws and his wife.
About 5 years earlier I’d taken a flight to London, and this guy was sitting beside me on the plane. He had a rose carefully wrapped in a stiff cellophane cone to keep it safe, and he’d placed it carefully, carefully in the overhead locker.
“I always bring my girlfriend a rose,” he explained. He went on to tell me that she lived in London, England, while he lived in Toronto. I can’t recall how they met. But they’d kept in touch and visited back and forth. He was now a police officer in the city. Well established. Able to ask a woman to give up her life back home to come to a new country with him.
And so, this time, he was going to London to propose. He was very nervous and very excited. He figured she would probably sell her house there and come to live in Canada; I think she may have been a teacher. As we got closer to Heathrow, his anticipation rose. He became more quiet and introspective. When we finally landed I wished him luck and we went our separate ways.
As the years went on, every once in a while I’d wonder about him. Did she say yes? Were they living here or there?
And now, five years later, in Algonquin Park, there he was. He was now an officer up in Northern Ontario and that’s where they were living. The in-laws had come for a visit and, like us, a little moose-hunting with their cameras.
“What are the chances?” we asked each other. In the middle of the bush, we laughed and marvelled at what a small place the world really can be.
And then together we looked around for the moose – but it had gone further into the woods. After a while it was time to get back into the car. We said our goodbyes and moved on down the highway to see what else we could find.