My shaking hands fumbled for the small box. I was having problems getting it open. But finally, after several attempts, I managed to release it. The time had come at last. I reached in and -.
But, wait, before we find out what was inside let's back up a bit. I had courted my lovely lady, Jenni, for close to a year. It was clear from the beginning we both had a mutual love of the outdoors. In fact, our first blind date was a three-mile hike to a lake (never mind that I accidentally showed her half naked pictures of myself at lunch on the lake, but that is another story). As the months and our relationship grew it became clear to me that Jenni was the one. I began to conjure up a plan where I would propose to her in an outdoor setting.
The only problem was the time I intended to propose was deep in the heart of a Montana winter. Not to be deterred I considered my options. Just across the border in Canada lay one of the jewels of the northern Rockies, Waterton National Park. While crowded with tourists in summer it was virtually deserted in winter.
This then would be the plan: a surprise road trip keeping the destination a secret. I only told Jenni to bring a suitcase for a weekend getaway with plenty of warm clothing. As we drove I could see that she was both excited and confused about where we were headed. But as the compass pointed us north and then west she soon realized that indeed we were headed to a very special place. We checked into the only hotel open in Waterton Village and then I began to let my plan unfold. Late that afternoon I suggested we take a walk up to a high ridge overlooking the magnificent peaks, crags and lakes of Waterton Valley.
And on that ridge I let the final part of my plan reveal itself. Oh yes, did I mention it was February and we were standing on the very backbone of the Canadian Rockies?
Braving the wind and bitter cold I reached for the box in my jacket and with shaking hands tried to get it open. Once, twice and finally, success.
And there on that windswept ridge, with the ring safely out of the box, I asked my sweet lady to marry me. End of story? Not quite. You see she didn't say yes, but she didn't say no. I think she was so cold and also in a state of shock she simply couldn't respond. She did say, though, that by the end of the trip I would have my answer. Well, the answer came sooner than I expected, although it took me a while to realize it.
As we awoke the next morning I wasn't sure if I was dreaming when I kept hearing a gentle and persistent voice saying yes, yes and yes again.
As sure as the mountains and meadows and streams I knew that this was not a dream but the woman I loved telling me she would spend the rest of her life with me.
Opening the box was easier this time. With warm and steady hands we placed the ring in the box for safekeeping.