For as long as Todd and I have known each other, which, by the way, has been a long, long time, we have had "contrasting" opinions on innumerable topics. Our most spirited exchanges have never been about children, religion, politics, family or even money. We see eye to eye on nearly all of life's most important matters. Truth be told though, the sparring can get pretty heated when examining issues that are by no means critical, but not inconsequential either. For us anyway. "Issues" that we both of course recognize, are extremely fortunate to enjoy.
Thundering Harleys vs. "sewing machine" Triumphs...excessively armored, drawn out Football games vs. naked, raw, condensed Rugby Sevens...Jim Beam vs. Redbreast...standing in a cold stream for hours while trying to fool a fish, to eventually catch one, admire him and toss him back vs. a serene yet vigorous hike in the woods. The list is pretty extensive and continues to grow. Much laughter usually ensues afterward. (Except, of course when I am sleeping through the Superbowl.)
As we enter the next chapter of our lives, with both girls away in college happily pursuing their passions, we find ourselves in uncharted territory. The house is at times painfully quiet and the newfound freedom has taken a bit longer to adjust to than we anticipated. We have had to redefine our evenings, our weekends and even our vacations.
It isn't uncommon, that after a strangely tranquil dinner, Todd will sit at his desk (workbench) and settle into a much desired calm while creating beautifully intricate Caddis, Stoneflies, Nymphs and countless other flies to be used in the upcoming trout season. Making bugs. Many bugs. Lots and lots AND LOTS of exquisite (and no doubt delicious looking) bugs. He shares many of the delightful books and tales of fishing on historic streams of the Upper Delaware, the Broadhead, the Ausable or the Esopus, all of which we have visited. He patiently awaits opening day, hungry for the long, slow, zen-like days on the stream with only the fish to answer to.
The adjoining room is my studio. There, I am equally as content and at peace inking images soon to be printed. Many of them are inspired scenes that I sketched while hiking in the woods not far from Todd's favorite fishing spots. We work side by side, but in our own spaces and through the doors we share stories, techniques, frustrations, fears, news about the girls, work, family and friends, listen to music...all while sipping some sweet whiskey. (Preferably Irish...of course).
We are not really big on gifts. Small things that carry a lot of meaning are what it's about for us. It's always been that way. (Although recently, Todd has been trying to convince me of the special "meaning" a new fly rod would have for him.) Surprising Todd with a package of pheasant feathers on sale at the craft shop or the new issue of Fly Tyer is a pretty exciting gift for him these days. For me, this Valentine's Day gift was a special one. With two college tuitions now, we had mutually agreed this was not a year for presents. But Todd broke the rules. I received one of the most memorable and meaningful gifts I can remember in recent years. He got me an awesome pair of hiking boots I had been eyeing on ebay for a couple months. But it wasn't the hiking boots that brought tears to my eyes. It was the fact that he had taken the time to travel to 2 other stores searching for red laces...for Valentine's Day. Needless to say, the laces are staying in!
At this new trailhead of our shared journey, we are searching for ways to learn and grow, challenging ourselves individually and together. We have discovered new hobbies, attempted new interests, but so appreciate that we still love digging out the camping gear to sleep under the stars like we did at 19. It still amazes me that after 36 years of knowing one another, 31 years of a beloved friendship and over 23 blessed years of marriage, we still cherish more than anything, the friendship and laughter we enjoy each and every day.
Ironically, it's those very things that Todd and I often rib each other about that bring us closest together. Long days out discovering new towns along gorgeous, winding backroads with the wind in our faces on our motorcycles (quiet ones)...watching a bunch of insanely powerful men shredding each other while attempting to get a stuffed pigskin into an end zone (padding and halftime are for wimps)...chatting with our favorite bartender about art and food over a perfectly poured drink (the best really do come from across the pond)...weekends in the mountains together, yet apart, fishing and sketching, wandering and rambling through water and forest (no equipment necessary)...and sharing a speaker between the doors of our studios while listening to Lyle Lovett sing Nobody Knows Me Like My Baby. Pretty perfect. Truth is, as I think about it, we really don't disagree on much. As the years pass us, we find joy in the very same things....being on the road, friendly athletic contest, being far, far away immersed deeply in Mother Nature, a great drink with great company, shared conversation with family and friends, creating beautiful things with our own hands and doing it all while simply being together.