WEEK SIXTEEN: TEN THINGS I’VE LEARNED IN 35 YEARS OF MARRIAGE

Monday was our 35th wedding anniversary.  I recently made this image of Sandhill Cranes (who mate for life) and I thought it would align perfectly with my reflections on the past 35 years:

  1. I’ve learned that one can survive being taught golf by your husband.
  2. I’ve learned that women share and men fix, metaphorically speaking. Don’t share unless you are willing to let him tell you how to fix it.  Actually, I still haven’t mastered that one.
  3. I’ve learned that “I can change” means “You’ll get used to it”.
  4. You do get used to it.
  5. I’ve learned that I am “high-maintenance” – something my family never got around to telling me.
  6. I’ve learned that child-rearing represents just a phase of your married life, even though it seems like your entire life while it’s in progress.
  7. I’ve learned that occasionally spending time apart is a bit like pruning your shrubs – it encourages healthy growth.
  8. I’ve learned that the things that you believe are so important in the beginning are relatively unimportant years later, and vice versa.
  9. I’ve learned that you can feel safe and happy with someone without talking or even being in the same room for hours on end.
  10. I’ve learned that having someone to scratch your head, warm up your coffee and serenade you with “On the Street Where You Live” is worth more than a lifetime of Valentine’s Day dinners out.
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WEEK FIFTEEN: BELIEVING

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It’s almost dreamlike, this memory.  Christmas music playing in another room, best holiday dresses, itchy white tights & patent leather shoes, two little girls watching while mom dresses the third and youngest for Christmas Eve.  Being older, we were in on the secret.  Dad was making his way in the snowy darkness to just outside the bedroom window and was about to ring the jingle bells and shout “ho-ho-ho” – his way to fuel the excitement and dispel any doubts about Santa, reindeer and the need to be good for twelve straight months.  Funny, though.  For just a moment, when the bells and familiar shout rang out, Santa was really there and I was a believer once more

WEEK FOURTEEN: WATER MOCCASINS

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I know very little about Native Americans, and less about the Timucua, who were among the early inhabitants of Florida.  But what a magical existence they must have enjoyed here on this unusual river.  Their story is the familiar tragedy; the population was decimated by the mid-1700s and the last few individuals deported to Cuba.

Often when I gaze out at the river, with no other witnesses save the occasional curious otter, I am reminded of those first and rightful owners.  I feel their presence, especially in fog.  Each day this past week, they appeared in that ephemeral fog, slipping in on silent moccasins before each early twilight and lingering until forced into hiding by the warmth of morning sun.

WEEK THIRTEEN: LIFE OF A COOT

Coots are interesting birds – more like chickens than ducks.  There is a healthy community of these birds near my house where they are a permanent fixture, darting around their pond making half-hearted honking noises.

I sometimes wonder if each has its own identity: this one’s high-maintenance and that one’s always late, or forever losing things, or missing the point.  Do they fret that Christmas is in only eleven days, pine for a new kitchen, or eschew a future on fixed income?  Are there red and blue flocks of coots?

I think not.  They seem to be all about feeding themselves and making room for more food, the darting around focused entirely on that objective.

But you never know.

WEEK TWELVE: SILK PURSE FROM A SOW’S EAR

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After dinner, the conversation went something like this.

“There’s gonna be a full moon tomorrow morning, setting right before sunrise.  Conditions should be perfect for a shot I have in mind of the moon setting over the gulf, in twilight, up at Crystal River beach by the pier.  Wanna go with me?”  This is not really an invitation.  I want him to go with me – mostly because I’m a wimp when it comes to adventures in the dark by myself.  But he knows exactly what I mean, so I don’t need to be direct.

“It’s a long way out there,” he says, cleverly dodging the question.  “We’ll need to leave the house by about 5:30, out of bed by 5:00.”  That’s a strategy he’s had some success with – casually pointing out the flaws in my plan in the hope that I will realize my folly and withdraw the request.  Problem solved.  Back to his Castle rerun.

But I didn’t just fall off a turnip truck.  “We can leave at 6:00.  It only takes about 15 minutes to get to Fort Island Trail.  Maybe another 20 minutes out to the water.  And I’ll be quick once we get there.  I know the exact shot I’m looking for.”

Silence.

“You don’t have to go if you don’t want to.”

“Maybe I’ll just see how I feel when I wake up.”  Check-mate.  No commitment, decision postponed.

As it turns out, it was all moot.  Heavy fog obscured both sun and moon at curtain time.  Instead, I went by myself to my favorite sunrise spot and found this treasure.  A low-lying backlit fog bank to my east, stained pink-orange by early morning sun, was spilling that soft light everywhere.   For the past several winters, I’ve been trying to capture what my mind sees when I look up at these lacy branches, limbs adorned with ball moss.  Maybe things work out better when you just go with the flow.