Last week I took a day off from writing and went on a road trip with my camera, my first such outing since before Christmas. I spent sunrise on the southern Oregon coast then headed south into northern California. My goal was another beach about an hour and half away, but midway is one of my favorite redwood trails and as I wound along the headlands, in and out of those massive redwoods, I could see patches of fog ahead, and the sun was rising through it. If the fog is in the right spot, I was thinking, I’ll get some really great lighting (fog being my favorite condition in which to shoot redwoods, eclipsed only by there being spears of sunlight through the fog and gorgeous pink rhododendron blossoms in the understory; since it’s too early for those, I hoped for two out of three).
There’s a lot of construction on those winding curves along the northern California headlands. Temporary signal lights and one way sections where traffic needs to take turns abound. I’d just passed through one of those and was winding up another headland with a concrete barrier to my right and very little shoulder. Beyond the barrier the land fell away, wooded, to the ocean below. Then I saw it. Coming toward me at the head of a line of cars was a truck hitched to a flat bed trailer. On the trailer was a lime green tractor. And it was taking the downhill curve far too fast. I saw the trailer tip toward the center line and go up on one wheel. The tractor slid along the trailer until it hit the road surface well over the center line and dragged along it, metal on pavement, still attached to the trailer.
What happened next took about three seconds and felt like an eternity. I swerved onto about a yard of shoulder (as far as I could go without hitting the barrier) thinking the driver of the truck was going to lose control with all that tipping weight it was pulling downhill. It was going to flip over, or that tractor was going to come off the trailer completely and tumble into me, or the truck was going to swerve into me, or the whole shebang was going to run me right over in my Toyota. And there was nothing at all I could do about it. Then, as if a giant hand reached down, the trailer tipped back upright, the tractor came up with it and settled into place, the truck driver never swerved an inch, and next I knew I’d driven past it.
Five minutes down the highway I reached the trailhead I was aiming for, parked, grabbed my camera off the front seat, and ran up the trail into the redwoods for about fifty yards, and turned back to see what I’d hoped to see. Glorious sunbeams slanting through the thinning fog.
Did God send an angel to tip that tractor and trailer back into place? I think so.
Reason enough to dance in the light.
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