The interpreter swung his canoe around to face the five canoes of the participants in the River Exploration program. He was about to point out evidence of beaver activity on the nearby muddy bank, when he saw the osprey hovering mid-river, 150 yards out, about to drop on a salmon.
"Look, an osprey, about to dive!" he called.The participants mostly continued talking to each other, but a few looked to the interpreter with their faces scrunched in confusion. "An osprey!" he called out again, and gestured wildly at the bird, which had ceased its hovering flap and was now in a spiralling dive.
"A what?" asked a woman in the nearest canoe.
"An osprey. It’s a spectacular bird of prey that dives for fish! Look!"
A few were interested. They glanced over their shoulders. Others continued their private conversations. The osprey emerged from the river with a glistening fish writhing in its talons. It headed for the far side.
"What were you looking at?" Someone in another canoe asked.
"An osprey," said the interpreter.
"What’s an osprey?"
"A bird of prey that eats fish," he said. Their faces were blank. The interpreter asked, "What’s on the back of a ten-dollar bill?"
"Mountains?" someone offered.
"The Queen," someone said.
The interpreter checked his thin wallet and found he had a ten-dollar bill. He passed it to a woman in the nearest canoe."Oh, it’s a bird," she said. "It’s called an osprey. It’s holding a fish in its feet." The bill got passed around until they all had a look.
"Oh," they all said, and they looked out into the river, where the bird had been.
"Whoops," said a man. "Somebody snag the money. It fell in the water."