It was early July in Gimli when I woke the sleeping child, warm in his bed. Sam his guardian, ever alert, moved only her eyes, approving my intrusion.
The morning light played over wrinkly blankets, past the dream-soaked memories, to his dog Sam and me. I reminded him to finish packing and to take a quick shower.
Dog, Boy and Dad did the pre-flight, loaded luggage and took off westward. Boy and Dog fell into dramamine induced slumber and missed daylight as it passed us crossing the prairies westward. It was like a wedge, moving forward, turning off lights in farm yards and small towns.
The first leg ended in Saskatoon and while Sam waited patiently with a bowl of water, the Boy and I had brunch at the airport’s restaurant.
Preparations for the next leg of the trip were interrupted as I stood in Flight Service near a second floor window observing the ten year old’s playful movements on the tarmac below. In a world of his making, the Boy made his way toward his enthusiastic dog-companion. Unknown to either, a security officer was in close pursuit. He retreated only when the pair dissolved into a bundle of fur and tangled limbs.
The airplane climbed again flying over grain farms and cattle ranches, serpentine rivers, purposeful railroad tracks, lakes, highway networks, swamps and forested valleys.
But everything changed along the southern shore of Slave Lake. Smoke from forest fires made it almost impossible to see forward. Looking down was easier – following the railroad track to Peace River and beyond to Manning was the only way of getting there.
Can I ask you something he said?
Are we going to crash?
No, not if I can help it.
And we’re still going to Manning?
So, we’ll get through the smoke?
Nothing. Just okay.
I love you.