Today is my 20th anniversary. No small feat in today's world I figure, and no small feat when I take the time to pause and look back at the twenty years The Hippie and I have been married. We've weathered many a storm, some easily, and some not so easily. We took in and raised a high risk child or two, just to keep us on our toes, we survived a host of difficult health issues -his cancer, that necessitated a total rebuild of of lower jaw, mouth and face, his multiple heart attacks including "the big one Ethel" that left him lifeless next to a grain bin, only to be saved by his quick thinking partner that day. On my end all that darned breast business, on - off- on - off - gone- back - a thousand trips back and forth to the city for hospital stays, surgeries and treatments and let's not forget, he's had to come to terms with living a wife with MS.
But what do we remember the most and talk about the most? Our honeymoon. Our first date was mushroom hunting (obviously he knew exactly how to woo this gal!)
So, since we got married right smack dab in the middle of mushroom season, it only seemed right that we head off to the Shawnee National Forest for a few days to hunt mushrooms, hike, fish, spend our time outdoors.
It was April - peak mushroom season, peak bluegill and crappie season. What could possibly go awry?
Plenty could go awry and did.
We headed out before daylight the morning after a rather raucous redneck/biker/hippie wedding reception. Half of our wedding present money was tucked securely in the hippies wallet, and we decided to pick up supplies on our way south. I'd been a little tied up with all the wedding foolishness to lay in the proper supplies for 4 days of camping in the Shawnee. All he'd had to do for the wedding was show up, clean and in the clothes I'd laid out for him.
We stopped in Harrisburg, -gateway to the great Shawnee - and hmm when it came to pay the nice lady at the cash register, the hippie's wallet was no where to be found.. he raced out the parking lot, nope, tossed the car, nope.
Seems when we made the trip through a drive through window earlier he'd laid his wallet in his lap. Seems when he got out of the car at the first stop it fell out. Seems it was GONE. Along with all the wedding money, along with all of his id's , along with his hunting and fishing licenses. GONE.
Alrighty - we can recover from that. I had stashed some of the wedding money in my wallet, so we paid for our supplies and motored on. It was a gorgeous morning when we set up camp. Until I asked where the cooler with all of our food was.
OH - the big green one? Yes dear, the big green one.
OH - the one sitting on the corner of the back porch? Yes dear, the one sitting on the corner of the back porch.
OH - It's still there.
So off we went to closest town.. gathered up a few basic items and trusted in our fishing and gathering skills to keep us fed over the next few days.
Things went swimmingly that first day - We gathered up plants and mushrooms, caught plenty of fish and had wonderful wild supper cooked over the camp fire.
Cooked over the fire because;
The Coleman stove dear, where might it be? Oh yeah, on the porch with with the big green cooler.
We were content with the campfire and between us had two lifetimes of managing fine in the woods without many extras.
"Wind sure is picking up" the hippie noted.. "sure is getting chilly" . Next thing the sky opened up in typical southern Illinois spring storm, full of wind, rain, hail and fury.
Where the hell is my rain suit? Oh let me guess.... on the porch, with the big green cooler, and the Coleman stove.
At this juncture, I was beginning to see the first order of business in this new marriage was to work out a better set of communication skills. Evidently we had gotten our wires crossed about who was in charge of packing and who wasn't.
Wasn't me.. I was "The Bride" - I'd had my fill of details, planning, and packing with all that wedding nonsense.
Ah well..we laughed.. as we crawled in the tent to ride out the storm.. the rain will l bring on more mushrooms. What the rain and hail brought was a leaky tent.. no real drips or holes, just a fine mist most of the night. A bit like a COLD sauna.
Upon awakening the next morning, we discovered that front that produced the storm had brought in much colder temperatures. There was frost for heavens sake.. in April!
And our warmer clothes, yep you guessed it - on the porch, with the big green cooler, the coleman stove, and the rain gear.
To his credit; despite the fact all the wood was soaked, the hippie is fire starting fool and soon he had a small fire going, enough to make coffee and cook a little oatmeal to warm us up. Until, when he picked up the pot, the handle broke, turned over and dumped the all the coffee on fire.
For the record, that's a very effective way to put out the fire.
You'd think this would have been enough to send us scurrying home. Not us oh no.. the sun was out, the day was going to warm up, and we would manage.
After the rough start, we enjoyed three more days of camping, hiking, fishing, feeding ourselves mostly from what we foraged and caught.
Seems that honeymoon was predictive of how our lives would be. Lot's of forgetting, lots of forgiving, lots of adventures and mishaps. But the sun always comes back out the next morning and life goes on, filled with richness and goodness.
No big celebrations today - it's time in our world to be " working dirt"
Here's to you Hippie - A lifetime with your hands in the dirt, making things grow and feeding all of us.....