A gift of a dozen beautiful roses yesterday reminded me that I had not shared this story - and it is too sweet a story not to share!
The day before Mark and I left for Nova Scotia, Colleen and I headed into the city (Edmonton) to do some running around - a trip to Ikea (for Colleen), a trip to the hairdresser (for me) and the likes. Knowing there was much to be done before Mark and I left in the morning we brought home fried chicken for dinner.
About a quarter mile from our house there is a little clearing where the county road ends and our driveway starts. The snowplow turns around there and in the fall it is a favorite parking spot for berry pickers.
As Colleen and I passed by, a elderly gentleman standing next to his car flagged us down. He politely introduced himself and explained that his wife, Lillian was overdue from berry picking. Seems he had dropped her off at 9am and was supposed to pick her up at 4pm. Now, alittle past 6pm, he was getting very concerned. One of my neighbors, who was also their cousin, was already on a quad looking for Lillian. Colleen and I whipped up to the house, quickly changed clothes, grabbed the ATVs and headed back out.
We found the other neighbours searching and discussed where they had been and their thoughts on the situation. Other then Mark, myself and one or two other locals, no one really knows the trails we were on well and I was rather concerned that we were going to be looking for more then just Lillian when darkness closed in.
Colleen continued searching on foot, the neighbours on ATVs and I headed back to talk to Lillian's husband. We were all concerned that we only had a few hours, at most, of daylight left, so when I suggested that maybe it was time we notified the police, Lillian's husband readily agreed.
We went up to the house and began the laborious procedure of explaining where we were and what our problem was to a 911 operator. With some passing back and forth of the phone, giving her legal land descriptions and finally just telling her what town our policing is done out of, she told me a constable would call me back in a few moments.
When the constable called, I went through the whole story again and gave directions (oh, and told him how to spell "Lillian" - that seemed to be a pretty big concern for him). He said he had some phone calls and arrangements to make and would be right out.
When I got back out to the clearing, there was still no sign of Lillian, however her bucket full of berries and an empty cigarette pack had been found a short way in along the trail.
Mark drove by on his way home from work. I flagged him down and explained the situation. He went home to drop off his car and headed into the woods on foot.
I was out on the ATV and came around a corner to see a lovely site - Lillian perched on the seat of on of my neighbours ATV. She was fine. Her berry bucket was collected and her little posse of searchers escorted her out of the woods. She insisted that she hadn't been lost, but could not really account for the hours she had been out in the bush.
I was first back to the clearing and Lillian's husband was delighted to hear the news that she was found and was fine. His eyes were literally dancing with relief as he told Colleen and I the plan for when she got back to the clearing, "I'm going to kiss her and then I'm going to kill her".
Sure enough, he didn't even let her get off the ATV before repeating to her what he had told us, "I told them I'm going to kiss you..." he said as he leaned over and kissed her and then gently grabbed her by the shoulders and said, "...and then I'm going to kill you.". She didn't look worried, but was rather appaled by all the attention her lateness had caused.
Lillian's husband profusely thanked us all and we headed back to the house to notify the police to call off the search, as they had still not showed up.
Colleen, Mark and I reheated our chicken dinner and were just polishing off the last of it when a few police cars pulled into the yard. Fly and I went out to chat. I'm pretty sure that the young officers were disappointed that their big search and rescue mission had been aborted. They told me they had already had helicopters on stand by and RCMP tracking dogs on the way up when we called to say Lillian was found. We chatted a bit longer, I gave them a quick tour of the dog yard and finally was able to get back to the house and get started on my packing for our trip.
Yesterday, Lillian's husband dropped by with a dozen beautiful soft yellow, pink edged roses. I told him that it really wasn't neccesary, but he said he was so grateful that his we helped him find his wife. "I just love that woman so much", he said.
I wonder if Lillian realizes just how lucky she is - and not just for being found in the bush.
Oh, and while he was dropping the roses off, he had dropped Lillian off so she could go and pick a few more berries!!!!