Four years ago today I met the love of my life, the luckiest person in the world: Jill Cooper. And, no, not because she is marrying me.
Jill happens to be a human four-leaf clover. Let me explain.
Soon after I first met Jill, we both found ourselves in Calgary and, thanks to a good friend of mine, we were given the chance to explore the Rockies by car. This was my first chance to get Jill into the field and to see how she would react to the idea of spending considerable time camping and doing wildlife photography.
Obviously, Jill fell in love with nature and photography – mainly due to her upbringing, but also because, over four days, Jill saw more than most see in a life time.
Within minutes of arriving in Waterton National Park, Jill saw 6 black bears. Remarkable, but not shocking, if you know Waterton.
But on our first major wildlife drive, we came across a bull moose. I’ve never seen one in Waterton.
Then we saw a fox – a pretty rare sight and a notoriously difficult subject to photograph.
The foxes didn’t just dash across our sight line. They lingered. They hunted.
Unreal. In a few hours, Jill had fox photos I’d worked decades to capture.
The weather was suppose to be crummy. It cleared up for Jill.
Oh, did I mention that during a quick visit to Glacier National Park we saw a black wolf run in front of our car? It turns out that it was the first time a member of this specific pack had been seen in a year and the first time it had ever been seen in this certain part of the park.
On to Kananaskis we went in hopes of seeing a grizzly, though it was a bad year for bears and none had been seen recently.
But of course we saw one.
In Jasper, the luck continued with one of the closest and best black bear photo opportunities I’ve ever had.
I emphasized that this experience was unlikely to be repeated. No one can have this much good luck on an ongoing basis.
I was wrong.
In subsequent years, Jill has made ridiculous declarations, like wanting to see a cougar in her first full year in the field. Right. Like that would happen. I doubted I’d ever see one as long as I lived.
But, you guessed it, Jill found her cougar – and in dramatic fashion (more on this in another post).
In fact, whatever Jill wants to find, she finds (why don’t you ask to photograph a pine marten Jill?! Why?!). She’s just the luckiest person in the world.
Well, second luckiest. After all, I get to marry her.