It’s amazing how many things had to go right for these engagement photos to exist, and for them to look the way they do.
It was back in May that I got an email from E describing his and T’s future trip to Nova Scotia. In it E described how he planned to ask for T’s hand in marriage atop the skyline trail in Cape Breton, and he wanted to have this memory photographed. Exciting! I was in. I was hooked.
E & I talked on the phone to sort out the details. Our plan was to meet on the trail around sunset, weeks ahead. According to our plan, Rae and I would be spaced apart on the trail pretending to take photos of the sun setting over the water, and when E & T were exactly between us, he was going to turn to his girl-friend and, in the words of Beyoncé, ‘put a ring on it’. Rae and I would spin around and photograph this moment. And then the four of us would do a portrait session on the hike back down the trail.
On the much anticipated day of, Rae and I were on the road, Cape Breton bound, with plenty of time. We wanted to be there with time enough to enjoy the trip ourselves, to arrive at least an hour early to explore. I imagined myself picking flowers and putting them in Rae’s hair, and taking photos of butterflies and maybe a moose, doing a selfie on the cliff overlooking the ocean. Fun things. Summer things.
Fast forward a few hours, past the endless, endless, endless Nova Scotia construction, past being caught behind dump trucks, mobile homes, and even a crane at one long stretch, along twisty roads. Fast forward past the pee breaks and, somehow, even more construction. Bit by bit, we go from having plenty of time to possibly being late! Adding fuel to my rising anxiety, the weather is thick fog and rain. I’m basically panicking by the time we get to the parking lot. In the forbidding, misty gloom, we park our vehicle and literally run, umbrellas in hand, all our gear on back, through the empty trails, schlepping through puddles and chin-high clouds, huffing and puffing. Worse: I can’t get ahold of E. We’d been texting that day, but the reception in Cape Breton is spotty. We finally arrive at our position on the trail, exhausted and wet, and it’s so foggy I can’t see the ocean. I can barely see Rae, a few feet away. Nobody is at the trail. It’s so foggy I’m not even sure if I’m at the right place. I worried that E & T might not find their way, assuming we were at the right place. It was eerily quiet. It occurred to me that I didn’t even know if E & T were on their way or if they’d already shown up early and left, or what. I was afraid we’d failed. And it was freezing (7 degrees, windy, damp). I texted E incessantly, not knowing if Rae and I should just keep waiting or go home, defeated. As I was contemplating all my misfortunes, I suddenly saw a couple suddenly emerge from the clouds, walking down the stairs toward me. To our great fortune E & T were a little late too, and they’d found their way.
I won’t describe E’s proposal because the photos do that better than I ever could, but afterward, E told me about all the things he had to manage in order to ensure that T didn’t find out about the pending proposal. Somehow, all the million things that almost went wrong, didn’t go wrong.
And it was extremely relieving to know that my worry about the fog were unfounded. For one thing, with weather like that, we got the entire skyline trail to ourselves–which is a miracle. Further, the fog is beautiful in its own way. And also, E told me that he and T have hiked in worse conditions and that it never tainted their enjoyment. They’d been caught in heavy rains, snow, and re-directs that had them scaling verticals in the dark. In E’s words, this engagement scene was completely “on brand” for them.
Sometimes, while you imagine yourself to be enduring heaps of misfortune, everything is secretly going exactly right.