In A Pickle  

The places in between

The antelope bounded across the open field and loped toward our vehicle, which was stopped beside the highway, near Moose Jaw. 

The impala ran back and forth, while we snapped pictures with the digital camera.

We were quite surprised to see it, as my then husband, (now ex) grew up in that area and had never seen antelope, and certainly not one running around by itself — that was not usual behaviour either. 

We had been visiting his family and decided to go for a drive, when we came across the lone antelope. After driving around, we headed back to the city and attended another family function. 

I took a lot of pictures of his grandchildren and looked forward to downloading the photos on the computer when we got home. 

It came as quite a shock to see the pictures of the family before and after seeing the ungulate, but there were no antelope photos.

We were baffled at how the camera took images of the grandchildren, but stopped working while photographing the antelope, and worked fine again after.   

Was it a ghost antelope seen by us, but not something a camera could identify? 

Perhaps we were looking into another dimension, a parallel universe, the twilight zone between life and death. 

According to Indigenous North American mythology, a solitary antelope will show up in a human settlement as a messenger from the spirit world.

Hence, the antelope sighting had spiritual meaning to my ex-husband, who was of mixed race, First Nations descent.  His ancestry apparently was from the Orion tribe, a special group of warriors, a secret wolf clan. 

A few years earlier, we had had a similar encounter with a lone grey wolf, when we came across it lying sleepily behind a boulder in the Alberta Foothills, west of Sundre. 

The wolf slowly got up and glared at us, pinning us with its eyes. It didn’t move, but rather stood its ground, silently demanding that we leave. We took the cue and backed away, but took a few photos with a regular film camera first.   

Interestingly, our akitas, which were normally aggressive, didn’t make eye contact with it. They seemed to know that this animal was the king of canines, not to mess with, or perhaps the dogs didn’t see it. Was the wolf there in spirit only? 

Moments later, we came across a badly injured wild stallion, which had been in a fight with another stud and was mortally wounded, just waiting to die.

While taking a picture of the horse, the camera suddenly jammed and we were unable to use it any more. 

The thing was irreparably and inexplicably damaged and the film inside, a gnarled mess. It seemed that we weren’t supposed to photograph the canis lupus and equine.

Stranger things have happened with cameras, and also, far more sinister. 

July 17, 1981, 14-year-old Stacy Ann Arras disappeared from the Yosemite National Park where she rode horse back with family and friends. Stacy travelled alone on foot a short distance later to photograph a lake. She was never seen again; only her camera lens was found. 

In a number of North American national parks, some 1,600 people have mysteriously gone missing and not a trace of them found.

In some cases, tourists have ventured into areas that were ancient routes used by Indigenous tribes, in which an elderly or dying person deliberately took a trail to lead them on their final journey, never to be seen again.

The unwitting vacationers some 200 years later went on that same path and disappeared too.

Sometimes when search and rescue parties came in using trained dogs to find them, the canines were unable or unwilling to perform their duties. 

Occasionally, missing people are found mysteriously many miles from where they disappeared and it wasn’t physically possible to have travelled that far on foot. They had no idea how they got there as amnesia had set in. 

Other times, the ending is not a happy, when human remains are found. 

In my 10 years of horseback riding in the foothills with my ex-husband, we were, on many occasions in peril when the land itself tried to swallow us in bogs or muskeg, or wild animals stalked or charged us.   

We, too, could have easily vanished without a trace, and who knows whether it would have been by natural or supernatural forces. 


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About the Author

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel writes about the humour in every-day life, and gets much of her inspiration from the late Erma Bombeck’s writing style. 

Doreen also has a serious side, shares her views on current events, human-interest stories and sometimes the downright bizarre. 

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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