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The Right Time, The Right Place

September 12, 2010

It was supposed to rain all day. That’s what had been forecast since I started checking the advance reports a week before. It was Tuesday morning September 7th, and Kelly and I had been at the cottage on Lake of Bays in Muskoka since Sunday night. It had been pretty much raining since we got there. But on Tuesday morning, despite the forecast and the little picture of a rain cloud on my BlackBerry’s “current conditions” screen, the sun was shining brightly.

I sat out in front of the cottage and took in the beauty and the peacefulness while finishing my coffee. Kelly came out to join me and we started the “What do YOU want to do today” game. I had been checking the forecast every fifteen minutes or so hoping it would get better, and instead it had gotten worse, they were now forecasting thunderstorms to start around noon. But Kelly seemed undeterred. She suggested we go to Algonquin Park. I hesitated. I wanted to go on a perfect weather day, but I didn’t want to let her know why. She noticed my hesitation and said “Surely you aren’t suggesting we sit around waiting just in CASE it starts to rain!?”

“Well, if you put it THAT way, no, that would be silly.”

So we packed up some snacks, cameras, binoculars and everything else you need for a fun outing,  and headed to Algonquin Park.

We arrived at the railway trail head about hour later after stopping briefly at the West Gate information centre. The parking lot was completely empty, save for a few chipmunks running around. Kelly busied herself feeding them some peanuts in the shell and I watched, trying to decide if this would be the right moment. We had a small snack and then headed out on the trail. The first fifteen minutes is through an open field. We walked slowly and had fun trying to identify some of the plants along the way using some of the many books Kelly has for this purpose. But after about five minutes, the thunder and lighting that should have started an hour before was putting on quite a show for us in the northern sky. It was beautiful, but just to be safe, Kelly suggested I return the camera to the van just in case we got soaked. I sat in the van, again wondering if this was the right time. As if to answer my question, the sun came back out from behind the clouds. It very well might be the right time. I dug deep into the centre console of my van and pulled out the little white box. With it securely hidden from view in the side of my chair, I returned to meet Kelly on the trail, the warm sun beaming down on us from a now beautiful blue sky. With thunder still rumbling to the north, we meandered up the trail to where it turns and drops into a forested area.

At this point, there is a small foot bridge crossing a river. We had been there the year before and I had taken dozens of pictures, trying to capture digitally the feeling of this spot. It’s breathtaking. As we both stood there staring in awe at the water and the surrounding forest, I wondered if this was the right place. Again, the answer came.

“I just love this place, it’s so beautiful” she said softly. After a brief pause she added “If ever I’m dying, and there is enough time, and it can be arranged, this is where I would want to die. Here, in this spot.”

A bird flittered in a tree about ten metres up the trail and she went looking for it clutching her binoculars. I turned my back to her and, while she was occupied, pulled out the little red box that had been nested in the white box. I practiced opening it a couple of times to make sure I was holding it the right way. My hands trembling, I called to her.

S: “Kelly!”

K: “What!?!”

S: “Come here.”

K: “No.”

S: “No really, come here”

K: “No! I have a bird over here!”

S: “Me too, come see.”

That did it, she came rushing over. I still had my back to her pretending I was looking in a tree at a bird.

K: “Ok…where? Where’s your bird”

I turned to face her, showing her the little red box I had in my hands.

S: “Right here, in front of me.”

I had prepared some words. I had thought about this moment for the last few years. In the end, everything I had planned to say left me. I just said what was in my heart. When I was done, she said exactly what I would expect from my Kelly.

S: “Will you marry me?”

K: “Oh o.k.!”

With that, she tried to put on the ring. And thus the only major glitch of the day. I got the ring size wrong. It was way too small. I felt horrible about it, especially because I KNEW the ring size, I just didn’t write it down and when the time came I had it made too small. This is as typical of me as it is of Kelly to say “Oh o.k.!” instead of “yes”.

Nonetheless, the moment was otherwise perfect. In fact the entire day was perfect. The bright sunshine and blue skies that weren’t supposed to be, were. Within an hour of this we both spotted our first moose just off the highway. Moments later, we made it to the visitors centre minutes before a torrential downpour and thunderstorm, which we watched from a glassed-in observation deck.

Later, returning to the cottage, the rain had stopped, and after dinner a heavy mist blanketed the bay and surrounding hills. It looked like fog, except it was just a layer with a very defined thickness. I had never seen anything quite like it and we went outside to get a better look. As we watched it, not quite sure what to make of it, the dead calm was quite suddenly replaced with gentle breeze. The fog started to retreat up the hill. It didn’t dissipate, it moved through the trees and up over the hill, as though God was tugging on a huge fluffy white duvet. Perhaps this is common up there, but I have never seen anything like it. It was truly incredible to watch. Within a few minutes it was gone.

That night, which according to all forecasts, was supposed to be cloudy with showers, was instead one of the clearest nights we’ve ever had up there. Far from city lights and with no moonlight, the sky was filled with billions of stars and the Milky Way was clearly visible. As we watched, several shooting stars raced across the night sky. After such an amazing day, I didn’t even know what to wish for. In fact, on seeing the first shooting star, all I could think of was “Thank You”

The Location

The view North from the Bridge

The view South from the Bridge

12 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2010 11:45 pm

    Sylvain, This is so beautiful. Thank you for writing this story up in such a lovely way to share with all of us. You’ve been thinking about it for a few years, wow! Kelly’s comment right before your proposal made me cry with the perfection of the whole day. I am so happy for you both. Love, O

  2. September 13, 2010 12:30 am

    Congratulations Sylvain, I thought you’d never get round to it.
    Thanks for “padding out” the day for us to share.

  3. September 13, 2010 7:05 am

    YOU’RE ENGAGED!!!!! 🙂

  4. Anne permalink
    September 13, 2010 9:44 am

    Not a regular commenter, just a lurker from over at Violet’s, but I had to stop by and say CONGRATULATIONS!!! What a lovely, lovely day for you guys 🙂

  5. Andrew permalink
    September 13, 2010 9:51 am

    A hearty congrats to the both of you! Thanks for sharing the moment with us all.

  6. September 13, 2010 12:19 pm

    Love hearing your verison of the EVENT!
    Sending lots of love and hugs and congratulations.
    Excited for you both.
    Mazol Tov!

  7. September 13, 2010 5:36 pm

    I’m so, SO HAPPY for you two!! Congratulations!!

  8. Kate permalink
    September 14, 2010 5:07 pm

    Congratulations! A wonderful story. Thank you for sharing.

  9. September 15, 2010 9:31 pm

    Deep happiness for both of you… your “bird in the hand” is definitely a ‘better bird’ than any she saw in the bush!

  10. September 17, 2010 4:28 am

    Congratulations to you both – lovely story

  11. September 27, 2010 9:00 am

    Good job, Sylvain! It’s a memory the two of you will have for a lifetime.

    One of the best parts of being together for a long time are the stories you create in your time with each other which you can retell each other and your friends. The two of you have quite a collection already, and I’m looking forward to hearing more of your stories as you live them!

    Big hugs to you both, my friend.

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