Sometimes timing really is everything.
The right tide, steps perfectly aligned, and an observant eye make this a happy story. Without all these pieces falling together just right, I'd have nothing to write about. No story.
A few weeks ago a former student of mine, and lifelong friend, came to visit Alaska for the first time with her family. Olive and I took them down to Seward for a night to stay at Cuzuncle David's cabin above Lowell Point.
We hiked the Tonsina trail down to Resurrection Bay and explored the flats at low tide, finding jelly fish and jumping puddles.
Carey, in her nonchalant manner, picked something up and handed it to me, "A GoPro."
I'd never seen one before but had recently learned about these high-tech durable cameras that record all kinds of adventures.
"Maybe we can post a Craig's list ad in Seward to find the owners," Carey offered.
I put the GoPro in the pocket of my Ergo and forgot about it until Carey and her family had left and my friend Ginna had arrived to visit. Ginna's partner Ish attached it to our computer so we could peek at the pictures. Nick scanned through 100's before finding a picture of a van with the name of the kayak company on the side. Adventure 60 North. Nick emailed them but no-one had reported a lost GoPro so he emailed them a couple pictures of the guys who took the trip. The kayak company forwarded the email to their guides and someone recognized their faces, so a day or two later we received an email back with a name and phone number.
I recognized the area code, Massachusetts.
"I think we found your GoPro," I said when I called and left a message. "Give us a call or text back. We'd love to return it to you."
The next day I received an excited message. Turns out it had been a rough day for the GoPro's owner, a family illness and all that goes along with hard news, and then out of nowhere comes our phone call, a camera lost at sea, found.
All those pictures, moments captured in time that can't be repeated, that can't be explained with words.
I mean what are the chances?
And yet here we were with his camera in our hands wanting and willing to return it. Sure we could have kept the camera--finders keepers, losers weepers-- but I never would have felt right erasing the memories of someone's Alaskan adventure, and whatever joy I found in using it couldn't come close to how I felt after hearing the rightful owners' voices on my answering machine.
The owner asked how he could reimburse us for our time and effort and I told him to do a kind deed for a stranger. In his text back he wrote, "Thank you very very much you embody the character of Alaska we got to know and love."
So I put the GoPro in the mail today, and if I wasn't worried about it breaking, I would have put a jar of smoked salmon in with it, to give the family a taste of Alaska along with the magnificent views.