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Fifty years of joy-filled seconds

June’s sounds are the hum of lawnmowers and bees, wedding bells and horn-happy graduates. June is a time of excitement and commitment and contentment. There are moments in June when all is right with the world. A velvety lawn stretches to the dappled shade under aspens. The willow is surrounded with a ruff of lily spears. There’s nary a weed in the garden. The mild breeze carries the scent of growth and nectar. Audubon warblers, western tanagers and evening grosbeaks are feeding upon the spent apple blossoms. Savor these perfect moments—these pure joy seconds.

Savor these moments, because the grass and weeds will continue to grow and you will have to deal with it. This brings us around to another sound of June—wedding bells. There are many parallels between tending a garden and growing a marriage. A gardener doesn’t toss down seeds and walk away. A newly married couple should know that the wedding is a beginning of their life’s work.

Consider two beings—one from Mars and other, Venus—with two separate identities, religions, ethnic backgrounds and life experiences daring to set out in a little row boat to cross the Pacific. Then adding babies as passengers. A lot of adjustments are called for.

In a garden or a marriage, in addition to adjustments, you have to pay attention. Pull the weeds before roots get established. Feed, shelter, nourish. The only difference is that with our climate, we only garden from April’s greenhouse starts to October’s garlic planting. A marriage can’t go dormant like a garden covered in snow.

Gardening as a pair is like being married... adjustments. This May we both suffered sprains and tears and it took two of us to get the planting done. One of us usually lays out the garden with a ‘pacing pole’—a six foot, six inch long larch whip—or by pounding in a stake every step taken for two foot spacing. Any leftover space gets filled with flowers. The other, who helped this year, prefers a more rigid method, requiring two tape measures, two layout twines, and a lot of time. While planting potatoes, after carefully raking the patch perfectly level, the precise one requested graph paper to plot where each spud should be placed.
“Honey,” said the one with the sore back, “This isn’t a cement pour.” And we both laughed.

A garden likes laughter.

A marriage needs laughter.

We have muddled along for fifty freaking years. We have shared the incredible highs and heart-breaking lows of parenthood. There have been uncountable moments of savorous perfection, hours of silent reproach. We have had some adrenaline-filled adventures on wild rivers and in hidden canyons. We have worked side-by-side to row that little boat. There have been times that it was fortunate that no garden implements were at hand. Plates and zucchinis have been thrown. Doors locked and a sleeping bag left on the porch. Indiscretions and disloyalty have been committed. Illness and minor accidents have occurred.

And yet we still laugh.

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Author info

Lou Springer Lou Springer lives in Heron when not out on a river somewhere.

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anniversary, marriage

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