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One particular night in December, Orion and Capella were allowed to stay up late. It was because they were participating in Snow Island’s first-ever Lantern Walk. Trailing behind their parents, they followed other hikers through the woods along the Star Trail. Soon the group would arrive at the observatory where they could admire the night sky and, if they were lucky, spot the Northern Lights.
Illuminated by the glow of their lanterns, the twins happily joined the crowd in singing Christmas carols. The mood was joyful, and it was a perfect night for a walk.
Suddenly someone cried out in pain.
“Ms. Isla twisted her ankle,” a man shouted.
Several people turned around to help the mayor, who was keeping company with the stragglers at the back of the group. Orion, Capella and their parents soon followed. While the mayor apologized profusely for ruining the hike, the adults discussed what to do. Some thought a person should wait with her until help arrived, while others offered to help her the rest of the way to the observatory as it was not far.
Just then, Orion had an idea, “Hey, why not make him a stretcher?”
“Yes, we learned how to make one this summer at the Little Explorers Day Camp,” adds his sister.
“It won’t be easy to do by lantern light, but I think we can make it work,” one woman replied happily.
Excited to put their knowledge to the test – and help Mayor Isla – the twins started explaining what to do. For many, the activity brought back memories of their own childhood outdoor survival lessons, and a sturdy stretcher was built in no time.
A few people carefully helped Mayor Isla onto the stretcher, and the stronger members of the group carried her to the observatory while others lit the way. Soon they joined the rest of the crowd that had gathered around the observatory and extinguished their lanterns.
Capella was disappointed not to see the Northern Lights, but then her brother pointed to the sky and exclaimed excitedly, “Look, you can see Orion from here!”
“You’re right,” she replied, looking at the constellation her twin was named after. “Help me find my star!”
“Your star? asked the mayor, who had been posted on the ground nearby.
“Yes, Capella is the brightest star in the constellation Auriga,” the girl explained.
“Oh, I didn’t know that,” replied the mayor. “Your parents must really like stars if they named you after one.”
“It’s because they met here,” said Orion. “Dad took his class on a field trip to the observatory, and Mom was their guide.”
“How romantic,” exclaimed Mayor Isla, following the girl’s finger as she pointed to the star that bore her name.
After gazing at the stars and sipping hot chocolate, the hikers prepared to make their descent.
Suddenly, the sky lit up with flashes of neon green. “Ooh!” and “Ah!” echoed through the crowd as all stood mesmerized by the wonder.
There was no doubt that the first edition of the Lantern Walk had been a great success, especially for Capella and others who had had their first glimpse of the Northern Lights.
By Johannie Dufour and Sarah Beauregard
Translated by Katya Teague