Photo of a Lifetime--No Film

Eleanor Dorst

© Copyright 2020 by Eleanor Dorst

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash
                              Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

I am a Canadian woman, who is from the central prairies in Winnipeg, Canada. Winnipeg is a city “ smack dab” in the center of Canada. Population around three quarters of a million. Most Canadians live within an hour of the US border and we never venture much past that boundary especially to the far north.

This story takes place roughly fifteen years ago, when there was a reported boom in buying houses in northern Manitoba in a hamlet called Leaf Rapids. It was a rundown, mining town and most of the occupants had vacated the area some years previous. The houses were said to be going for under ten thousand dollars and there was a desire to check out this rumor in the newspaper. It was similar to” the gold rush”era in the mid eighteen hundreds. My husband and I were looking for a vacation and this seemed to provided an opportunity.

Leaf Rapids was about a ten hour drive up north. There was no scenery or “wild life” up . You basically sat in your car and looked at the stumpy trees, rocks and monotonous scenery for hours. I brought my old camera, the kind that still required regular film that has to be developed in a dark room, for those who don’t know what I referring to . So, I figured this was as interesting as its going to get, so I snapped random shots of “nothing “to prove to others that I still went up there.

We finally arrived and proceeded to check into a “Motel 6” kind of place. I was pretty amazed that I bumped into a neighbour I had lived next to for ten years, who was the proprietor. We struck up a conversation and caught on old times.

We took a look around to see what kind of houses were up there but, soon realized “the cream of the crop” was long gone. So, we still managed to hike around the area, as we both enjoyed nature and walking.

My camera was flashing non-stop on any tree I could find. Boy, pretty boring stuff and no excitement on that roll of film.

So, the boredom overtook us and we decided to leave this place and head back home. Kind of disappointed but, at least we took a chance.

It wasn’t even an hour back on the gravel road and in the thick bush, till I realized all my film was used up. I thought it doesn’t really matter, I had a good thirty pictures of trees and rocks.

Well, we saw some strange movement coming out of the bushes, like the trees were separating to make way for some big thing. Well, suddenly, this large animal appeared! A giant moose right next to my windshield. My husband I virtually gasped at the size and presence of this beast. Never had I been eyeball to eye ball with creatures in the wild. So, we tried to take it all in, but, still behind the mother was two baby moose and that really blew me away. I never knew she could have twins? So here we sat with these animals a stones throw apart and not a bit of film to prove this happened in my life. It really is a special feeling being at one with nature. In zoos there are barriers and cages, but, out in the wilderness you are on even turf, so to speak. I knew we weren’t in any danger because moose are herbivores. However, we still stayed in the car and didn’t spook the animals. How I wish I had a picture of this moment, but, my memory was all I had. Oh, such a rush!

The moose passed across the gravel road as proud and majestic as you please. Here I had lived in Canada all my life and never saw a moose up close.

The trip was proving interesting. Then after some time, a brown bear, was near the side of the road. A great shot to capture. (oops, it happened again)

I must have hit the motherlode with wild animals on this trip. The last one was a beauty, a wolf sitting as pretty as you please in the middle of the road. We slowed down to take a good look and we sure figured with was no little puppy.

Three animals in natural habitat, but, no “Kodachrome “to back it up.

I know Americans come in truck loads to go fishing and hunting in the Canadian north and enjoy the starkness and purity of the wilderness.

So, for us we can only mention the ones that got away and hope people would believe us.

I had a similar experience on our honeymoon back in Scotland in the eighties. We decided to check out Scotland on our own and rented a car there. I was not accustomed to driving on the wrong side of the road. We went round and round in circles for hours always returned to the rental agency. As luck would have it, I took the wrong turn and came up the backside of Clydesdale horse pulling a beer wagon. That horse got up on its haunches and proceeded to scare the wits out of my and my husband. I have seen horses lunge like that in western movies on tv, but, I never saw a horse of that size and strength rear into the air.

The local police told me off (very politely) and the village people all gathered around the street. Me and my husband’s faces were bright red and we had to stop for a tea to settle down. On the return trip, we were surrounded by sheep and I meant hundreds of sheep. I never saw so many and it seemed they have the right of way in those small Scottish villages. There is no such thing as “road rage” in the Scottish countryside. The animals definitely have the right away.

I had to confess that that this town was not suitable for me to drive in and my new husband could finally remove his white knuckles from the dashboard.

We decided to take the train back to London and enjoy the animals from a distance. It sure was a lot more relaxing and romantic.

Next trip I will bring those new fangled smartphones and post them on social. Banff here I come.

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