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  • Susan Gallagher

The Blue People

This soggy weather put my husband and me in mind to visit Niagara Falls. What the heck, we figured, we were pretty wet already anyway.

We arrived at the falls late, but in time for the evening light show. Jostling for viewing position along a handrail with hundreds of other tourists, we were surrounded by people from all over the world—Indian families with women in colorful saris, organized Korean tour groups trying to keep track of one another, and smooching, French-speaking newlywed couples. (Oh la la!) The place was a melting pot that hadn’t quite been stirred.

The next day, along with many of these same strangers, we bought tickets for the iconic Maid of the Mist tour, a twenty-minute boat ride out to the foot of the falls. As we lined up to board ship, a funny thing happened—each of us was issued an identical, disposable blue rain poncho. Dressed in this waterproofing, suddenly we were no longer Asians, Indians or Americans. We were just, the Blue People.

The Blue People all spoke the same language: ooh and aah as the spectacle of Horseshoe Falls came into view, laughter as the daredevil captain steered us all straight into the drenching spray. The Blue People all held onto the railing as the boat pitched and yawed, all held up their children for a better view. The Blue People shared smiles and a universally understood sense of delight and awe.

I think it’s a shame such moments of shared humanity are, at least in my experience, all too rare. I also think nature tends to engender these moments, and that spending time with each other outdoors is a great equalizer.

Nature has a way of reminding us of what we all have in common, no matter our color, our language, or our culture, and no matter how wet we might get while we're out there.

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