Unreasonably happy tonight. I’m the only car tucked in the trees of a rest area an hour from Kelowna, with strong cell service that ensures my phone alarm will wake me when I need it to tomorrow, my perfect truck is gently vibrating as it slowly sips from a full tank of biodiesel, and I’m clean and warm and wrapped in down in the back seat, zipped into my extravagantly subzero sleeping bag and jacket, writing on my computer and drinking San Pellegrino to the shadows of trees above me through the sunroof, all aimed at a vanishing point in the distant stars. How could it get better than this?
On the drive I’ve had six hitchhikers but mostly been alone. I was blessed to see three grizzly bears, and I saved the life of the only deer I saw tonight.
I think I was the only one to see the bears. I drive on the right side of my vehicle and caught them out of the corner of my eye crossing a cut block, gaped and slowed, then pulled over as soon as I could and turned around, hoping to get a picture. I saw then that they had waited as I had for opposing traffic to pass, and were crossing the highway. Big mama and two cubs 2/3 as big as she. All shimmering in the afternoon sun with that unmistakable ash blonde and silvery upper coat and dark brown undercarriages. Motoring along, with long loping strides. Wow. I tried to focus on them as they slipped back over the bank but the shot is only one of those awful Loch Ness monster pictures that could just as well be a bad picture of three gophers in a brush pile.
I love my truck, but it has no guns going up a grade, so I was collecting a few pairs of headlights behind me with no passing lane in sight, so I suddenly got fed up, half pulled over, dumped my speed, and flashed my lights to tell the car behind me to pass. The high beams just caught the deer that was standing in the middle of the lane facing away from us. The car behind me had slowed too, the way people do in that situation, waiting to figure out what you’re doing, and he saw it too in my lights, braked and waited for the confused little thing to get off the road. Random, perfect timing. Another moment before making that decision and I would have come on it at speed with no time to react while being followed closely, and any number of bad things could have happened. I love these kinds of confirmations that I’m tapped into the connections of life and my path, and in that place I feel perfectly safe and good and have no fear.
Oh, and earlier: I was tired and wanting to pull over for a nap but feeling too gritty to be able to enjoy it, so I followed the sudden tug to pull into a campsite and ask if I could buy a shower. I was greeted by five working dogs with eyes so intelligent they made me feel insecure, and a surprised and slightly sauced horsewoman/proprietor named Wednesday who invited me in for a kick of moonshine with the boys, pointed at the bathroom door, refused money, and all but hugged me with open-hearted welcome. I’m so glad that such a thing is possible in the world. Two of the dogs stood watch at the bathroom door (I heard one slump his body against it after I closed it) and flirted shamelessly for ear scratches when I emerged. That hot strong shower perked me up like four hours sleep, and I went on driving.
I love my life.