I was the girl who could climb trees and outrun boys. Dusk made me invincible, as if I were running faster than I actually was, so I loved to play games like Manhunt when the light was fading and I could tear across a stranger’s lawn or an empty golf course. So, in Canada, when we were presented with a long ladder up an old-time fire tower that was taller than the treeline, I thought, Great!
I waited on line to jump onto the ladder. The people in front of me were so slow. I just wanted to get up there! To see. I always wanted to see, to look. Finally I got on and as we climbed the three-story ladder, I looked down. Nothing but grassy dirt and our nervous counselor. The higher I climbed, the more the tower swayed like a skinny pine tree in the wind, gently, but moving back and forth. There was no backing on the ladder to catch us if somebody missed a rung. On the top was a small cabin. Some of the rungs were either rusted or broken off.
When I got to the cabin and stood looking out over the trees, I sensed how the wind felt different up high, making me step a few feet away from the railing. As I blinked into the start of dusk, this difference held me rapt as I finally noticed how vulnerable I was. Up here, nothing impeded the wind, and it seemed to reign as it pushed around the tops of the pine trees. As if a mask had been peeled off, this was the true wind. I peeked over the railing with new eyes. The extreme height dictated good behavior in the small cabin, but two boys started to joke in a pushing manner so I left and climbed back down, holding on tight, aware that I would never be here again.
As we waited for the others, Eva and I went for a paddle by ourselves. We got into the canoe and paddled slowly because we didn’t have to keep up with the group. It was nice to just hang out, and Eva and I enjoyed being in the canoe talking and relaxing, the sound of our dipping oars in the lake. I looked up and examined bright pink clouds, surprised at their perfect fluffy shapes. I pressed my “mind camera” to remember this, knowing it was something special. Then Eva wanted to go across the lake so we paddled toward the tall reeds on the opposite bank, but when we turned the corner of those tall reeds, we got a huge surprise.
Eva reached for her camera, her oar clambering against the canoe. I stopped paddling, mouth dropping open, in awe of the enormous brown animal before us with horns as big as you can imagine. Not ten feet away was a giant moose.
I think with Eva’s camera snapping and the two of us exclaiming whatever we exclaimed, the moose ran. We stood in the canoe, balancing and grabbing onto the useless reeds as we watched the animal run into the woods. All we wanted during this trip, Eva and I, was to see a moose. Not realizing how rare that sighting would actually be, we decided this is what we wanted. Everywhere we paddled, we looked for our moose. That we actually saw a moose and didn’t get trampled by it is still a mystery. But it brought me back to how I felt at the beginning of the trip, to the notion that wishes can come true, and to expect that.