On December 10, Elaine and I will celebrate being married 32 1/2 years. Every year on our half-year anniversary, we go out to dinner at Coach and Four Restaurant in Roanoke, Virginia and exchange anniversary cards. Some may think it silly for us to celebrate our anniversary twice a year, but Elaine is a woman worth celebrating, especially for being married to an outdoor writer.
Over the years, Elaine and I have taken many outdoor related trips together - many of which went less than smoothly. There was the time in the mid 1980s on the Rapppahannock River when a torrential thunderstorm took place, the river flooded, our canoe overturned, and we spend part of an afternoon huddled on a bank hoping lightning would not strike us.
On two other occasions, our canoe overturned (both of which were my fault), and my wife was unceremoniously dumped into a river. She never cast the proverbial stones at me. Back in 1995, not long after we had purchased our red Dagger Legend, we were loading the boat onto our vehicle when the canoe shifted and somehow one of Elaine's fingers became caught in a rope and broken. Elaine has never blamed me for the broken digit, but it was my fault.
Just last week, we were using our chainsaw to cut down a dead pine in our front yard when the blade became stuck in the tree and when after turning off the saw, we had to laboriously remove the blade from the hinge. Later we decided to use a rope to "guide" the tree downward, but the rope slipped out of my hands, Elaine fell and landed on her left hand, spraining it. Again, my sweetheart did not blame me.
A little over two years ago, Elaine was diagnosed with a virulent form of breast cancer, and it was the darkest time of our married lives. Fortunately, she survived two rounds of chemotherapy and other treatments, and we both are very optimistic about her future. Elaine is a determined woman.
Over the next year, I know the following will happen:
Long after dark, I will bring a deer home for us to butcher, and she will arise and help wrap the tenderloins for the freezer and not complain about doing so.
I will do something stupid while float fishing, and she will merely bite her lip.
I will ask for her to pose for pictures out in the snow, and she will bear it.
I will plan some outdoor adventure that has failure written all over it, and Elaine will sweetly talk me out of it.
She will cook all manners of game animals, fish, and wild berries, mushrooms, and nuts that I bring home and always do so cheerfully.