I dreamed last night, and that was strange for me. Since a personal tragedy some time ago, I had not dreamed at all. That had worried me, but no more.
I dreamed my late wife and I were hiking the hills of Lake Country, as we had so many times before. Suddenly, from the greens and browns of what seemed to be autumn, a grizzly appeared, on a dead run.
I was far behind, as usual. A former sprint champion in high school, she was the fastest hiker I had ever met, male or female, and I knew how hard it was to go slowly, to let a person with a slower pace stay close. I remember seeing her disappear into the forest running, the bear close behind.
I reached desperately for the twelve gauge under the bed. Sliding smoothly into my hand, it waited for the shells hidden close by as I sleepily grasped for them.
Reality dawned in dark grey light through my window, and I woke. Putting the shotgun back, I marveled at the return of dreaming, and the message I thought it held.
We all make mistakes–that is one of the facts of being human. When bad things happen as we live our lives, blaming ourselves is normal, but fruitless. If we do not repeat our mistakes and try to help others with our hard-earned knowledge, we win back our future, and perhaps help our neighbours. Time heals all wounds, but the scars remain. They are reminders, like history. All we can do is learn from them.
Miss Daisy jumped up as high as she could, perhaps to my thighs. The Shitzu-Yorkshire Terrier cross was in my care while my friend Karen was attending a funeral in Fernie.
We went to the window and looked out on a winter wonderland, the outdoors draped in a foot of newly fallen snow. We were getting ready for our day when the phone rang.
Karen had made it home the night before and was calling to say conditions were too bad to make the drive out to pick up Daisy. I agreed with her and let her talk to Daisy on the phone.
I told Karen I would be in around ten that morning, after rush hour, knowing it would be a horror show on the roads.
Hanging up, I decided to surprise her by driving in before rush hour. Our friends at the library, Deborah, Louise and Donna, would not get to visit with Daisy on our daily walk for a while. She was frantic, wondering why she could’t see her mommy, but had heard her. So we went, and that was a mistake.
I waited for the big rig to pass the driveway before I pulled out onto Beaver Lake Road. Following the transport up the hill to Hwy 97, I saw it’s right turn signal come on. Cheating into the left turn lane to make the turn easier, it stopped at the traffic lights. They changed, but the truck was stopped on snow covered ice.
Correctly, the driver put on his four-way flashers immediately. I had left lots of room between us, knowing trucks had slid back down the hill before in conditions like this. I swung around him and slipped past easily on new snow tires, turning left with the light onto the highway.
I petted Daisy in her seat and said “ We’re okay now Miss Daisy!”
That was my second mistake.
The snow blowing over Duck Lake covered the black ice on the road with hard-packed snow. Foolish four-wheeled vehicle drivers slid sideways to my left, almost into the oncoming lanes trying to pass, only to find no traction with any wheels whatsoever.
I stayed slow and safe in my lane as they skidded back in behind me, mentally kicking my butt for stupidly putting the life of one of my best friends in danger. When we were safer I petted her, and apologized.
Karen was shoveling out her driveway as we approached. I made light of our driving adventure, and we drank coffee and played backgammon until conditions improved. I left for home around ten a.m., expecting a much easier drive, and it was for a while.
I approached the airport, moving to the left lane to pass a garbage truck stopped in the passing lane, waiting for the traffic lights to change. Nothing had changed near Duck Lake. My lane had bare pavement where tires had cleared it, but the passing lane was still snow and ice covered.
The local garbage truck was now catching up as I slowed for traffic ahead, matching their speed and leaving a large gap between us. The driver of the truck thought about passing on our left, then pulled back in behind me. Obviously a true professional, he had decided keeping his always tight schedule would not be in the best interests of himself or the other drivers around him. Although his heavy truck with huge snow tires was capable of doing it safely, he had seen there was nothing to be gained in the short distance to his turnoff on Beaver Lake Road. I saluted him in my rear view mirror as we parted company. He must have known what I should have realized much earlier.
Mother Nature does not care about us or what we want to do on the spur of the moment. She has a whole universe to take care of. Anyone who thinks they can do what they wish, when they wish, are wrong. It is always better to wait than rush. What would our friends and family think of me, when we did not return home because of my poor decision? I will never do that again.
The sun came out, briefly, as I shoveled my own snow. I looked to the gaps of clear blue in the sky, and thanked The Great Speckled Trout (my personal deity), for getting me home safe once again, and more importantly, taking care of my furry little friend. I said hello to some other people as well, those who have gone on ahead, in their own time, at their own pace. It felt good. I hope we all meet again.