As predicted at the end of last week’s column, I was involuntarily sent to the travel trailer (aka “the doghouse”) in our backyard for, as Yvonne put it, “Some time to think.”
I prefer camping at a state or national park, but I have (especially since retiring) grown accustomed to these periodic backyard expeditions so I decided I would spend the time the same way I have during past trips to the doghouse. While waiting for Yvonne to get over her misguided feelings about whatever it was she thought I had done wrong, I would watch a little TV, listen to satellite radio, sleep, eat (albeit humbly so), and, of course, do some hiking.
But as I soon discovered, Yvonne had come up with a new strategy to make sure I would have time to think. It took some doing but she figured out which breaker to flip to cut off the power to the extension cord I had run from the garage to the trailer. Not having electricity for the TV, satellite radio, or even for lights to read Backpacker magazine would, she presumed, leave me with nothing to do but think.
And to be doubly sure of this, when I woke up the first morning I found Yvonne had taped a note to the outside of the doghouse door. The message was simple but clear, “You might want to spend some time thinking about feelings and our relationship.”
Pulling the note from the door and crumpling it in my hand, I thought to myself, “Man, this is going to be a long week.”
I suppose the note was well intended but it sure didn’t put me in a thinking mood; but then a thinking sort of thought came to mind, “If I am going to try doing some thinking, a good long hike would at least help clear my head.”
So I laced up my hiking boots, grabbed my favorite hickory walking stick (the one that had belonged to my Dad), and stuffed a couple bottles of water and some honey oat nutri-bars in my backpack. As I headed across the field toward the woods behind our house, another thought came to mind, “At least she let me have a case of nutri-bars to go with my water this time, instead of the usual two loaves of plane bread.”
Happily, Mother Nature had not abandoned me. The morning was perfect for a hike. The sun was shining, a gentle breeze was blowing, and the temperature was a balmy 55 degrees.
I hiked for a couple of hours following a circuitous route, periodically crisscrossing my self-made path to stay in the 50 acre wood. About 11:00 a.m. I decided to stop and rest at the base of a large oak tree where our neighbor (and owner of the property) had constructed a sturdy deer stand about 20 feet up in the tree. On second thought, the deer stand looked so inviting I quickly ascended to the platform, removed my backpack, and sat back to enjoy the view.
I had barely washed down a honey oat bar with a few sips of water when I felt my eyelids starting to close, and before I knew what had happened Mother Nature injected me with a soothing dose of sunshine anesthesia casting me into a deep Rip Van Winkle sleep.
As so often happens when one is in such a state, intense thoughts began racing through my mind. I was floating on a great white cloud and suddenly saw myself as the 20 year old young man I was 47 years ago, standing at the alter looking deeply into Yvonne’s glowing blue eyes; and from somewhere in the cloud I heard a deep, melodious baritone voice say, “Do you, George Raymond Brown, take this woman, Yvonne Sue Bartley, to be your lawfully wedded wife? Do you promise to love honor, cherish and protect her, forsaking all others and holding only to her forever?”
Before I could open my mouth to say, “I do”, the mysterious voice added, “and do you promise to be a good listener, to be sensitive and understanding of her feelings, to express your own feelings, and to have the good sense to take her in your arms and kiss her in the kitchen as often as you do in the bedroom?”
This last statement caught me off guard, but I liked the sound of it.
At that very instant, just as suddenly as I had fallen asleep, I was wide awake again, and could hear myself shouting to the trees, squirrels, and any other wildlife in range of hearing – “I do, I do”!
Forgetting where I was, I jumped to my feet, almost falling off the deer stand in the process. Catching my balance, I grabbed my walking stick and backpack, then scurried down the wooden boards nailed to the side of the tree for a ladder, and broke out in a mad dash for the house.
When I knocked on the glass of the locked backdoor, Yvonne could see the glow on my face so she quickly let me in. I immediately embraced her as the words came tumbling from my lips and heart, “Honey, ‘I do!’ I love you, and I will always cherish and listen to you. I will try to understand your feelings, and I’ll even try to have feelings of my own – until death do us part, I promise.”
I paused to catch my breath and was going to go on about how important our relationship is, but Yvonne placed a finger to my lips and said, “I love you too.” Then she replaced her finger with her lips, and all was well.
As you might have already figured out, I only spent one night in the doghouse, and with any luck it will be a long time before I do so again.
George Brown is a freelance writer. He lives in Jackson Township.