Weird and Wonderful Surprises

I love the unexpected, don’t you? Celebrating unusual experiences is part of being a writer. I’ve had a number of unexpected encounters with humans and other animals over the years.

Once I was standing at a bus stop in Seattle, along with a number of other people, when a woman walked up to me and asked “Ou est La Bon Marche?” (Where is the Bon Marche? Bon Marche was a big department store at the time in Seattle.) I pointed in the general direction and said, “La-bas, l’edifice beige.” (“Over there, the beige building.”)

Now, how weird is that? This woman asked a perfect stranger on an American street corner a question in French and that stranger happened to be me, who sort of speaks that language. She didn’t even look surprised when I answered.

One time I was scuba diving at night off of Grand Cayman with a group of friends. We were in fairly shallow water (maybe forty feet), down in a canyon, when we heard rumbling and saw lights shining over the ridge. I didn’t think much of it because we were in an area with a fair amount of boat traffic, and I knew we were deep enough to be in no danger from boats zipping by overhead. Then suddenly, a small submarine zoomed over the canyon rim and nearly mowed us down.

Yeesh! Who knew you had be on the watch for deadly underwater vehicles?

In college, I was crossing the campus in Oklahoma, my eyes focused on a newspaper in my hand that I was reading as I walked, when I heard what sounded like a very loud trumpet from an elephant. I looked up. Standing before me on the sidewalk was indeed an elephant. The man on his back waved to me. I stepped off the sidewalk, and the elephant and rider continued on their way.

Elephants wandering around the University of Oklahoma. Of course. Why not? (I later found out that one of the fraternities was having a circus fundraiser that day.)

When I was having tea on vacation in Kenya and gesticulating with my spoon to emphasize some no doubt fascinating comment to my comrades, a Colobus monkey leapt onto the table and grabbed my spoon. I held on. He bared his teeth. We played tug-of-war for a bit. I won. Maybe that incident is not such a surprise if you have a lot of experience with monkeys. I gained a bit more experience with those furry devils on that trip, especially on one memorable day when the crew left the windows down in our Land Rover and returned to find an entire troop of monkeys partying inside.

During a spectacular meteor shower, I was standing out in my yard on my rural property at around 3 a.m., simply amazed by the light show going on all around. There were so many meteors that I stopped counting at 100. They looked as if they were falling so close that I kept expecting to hear explosions on impact.

Then I heard a loud snort behind me (ACK!!) and whirled around to see a magnificent buck standing only a few feet away, starlight gleaming off his incredible rack of antlers, his breath steaming in the cold air.

I can never see meteors now without thinking about the “magic buck” I encountered that night.

Those are just a few of the weird and wonderful encounters I’ve experienced in my lifetime. They enrich my life and add spice to my novels when I can find the right places to sprinkle them in. What surprises have you had that delighted you?

4 thoughts on “Weird and Wonderful Surprises

  1. That’s a wonderful series of serendipity. A friend in the central part of Washington has had several encounters with animals like yours. Mine are less dramatic. When I was walking down a street in India, an elephant on the other side of the street swung into traffic and came straight across to me until the mahout stopped him. Elephants were a pretty common sight during festival season. Mostly I watch the crows and other birds protecting their young and then teaching them to fly. A young pigeon was learning and the entire flock in the city came out to encourage the little one–lining car and porch roofs, blanketing shrubbery, making a racket. Wonderful stories. Thanks for sharing.


    1. I love watching birds, too. And I’ve been to India as well. As the granddaughter of cattle ranchers, I never got used to having a cow stand beside me on a busy street corner, waiting to cross the street with other pedestrians.

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  2. Those were amazing events. The one of mine I can think of happened when we were camping at Yellowstone, everyone was off sightseeing, and I know I was the only person left in camp ( I was reading) when a huge moose decided to stroll through knocking down people’s tents as he went. Scared a poor cat who was leashed to a clothes line and got wrapped up in it. I rescued the cat once the moose was gone and held on to it until the owners returned.


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