… By Five o’clock I intend to close this computer and not open it again until the 8th of February. Jill and I are going on the first real vacation we have had in twelve years. We travel separately quite a bit: I’m off doing a reading or teaching or looking at parts of the Great Plains for a book, Jill is cooking somewhere. We travel together too, but it has always been in conjunction with some event, some sort of work. This time it is a real vacation, just the two of us. We are off to a place that both of us have always wanted to see – Costa Rica.
The other thing that needs to be said is that we got married two nights ago. We have been living in sin for over a decade, but it was not so much a sin of commission as it was a sin of omission. We literarily were never able to find the time – or the right time – to do the deed. Over a year ago we let it be known among our families that we were going to get married. My brothers claim that it was a ploy to extort wedding presents from them – which we did and we are still enjoying them. It just took a little time to pull the trigger.
We were shocked and disappointed to learn that Pennington County, SD does not have Justices of the Peace. Somehow we had hoped for a kindhearted old man to marry us in this parlor with his lovely wife looking on as the witness. Not going to happen in Pennington County, SD. But it turned out even better. We finally got ourselves organized enough to meet at the court house to buy the marriage license. We got all those papers signed just in time to race to the Rapid City Public Library. The director of the library was a little shocked at our request but rallied nicely to dissuade us from getting married among the stacks. (Jill had lobbied for the Non-fiction section) She led us to a lovely reading room where one of our favorite sculptures by a good friend commanded the solarium windows. Jill’s daughter, Jilian was the Maid of Honor and Lucas, Jill’s son, was the best man. The presiding official was the newly appointed lay-minister from the Unitarian Universalist Church. She was perfect and confided that, “This is my first marriage ceremony,” she shrugged her shoulders and smiled. “For a two sex couple, that is.”
It only took a few minutes but in those few minutes all of us were reduced to serious tears. It was the best wedding I have ever seen. We went to dinner where I had Coco Vin and too much to drink. And now, in addition to a new layer of life, we are embarking on a trip to Costa Rica.
All last week the weather was excellent for a South Dakota January. The high temperatures reached the low sixties and I have to admit that I was saddened to think that we would have to leave a beautiful false spring to travel to Central America. After all, one of the great pleasures of such a trip is to leave all your friends in the jaws of a fierce winter. Moving around the ranch, preparing for the trip, in those “short sleeve days” was a little disheartening but last night the temperature plunged and the prediction is for several days of sub-zero weather. If the plane flies it will be a perfect escape.
And we can turn our full attention to Costa Rica. Last night I turned everything over to Gervase, Erney, and Justin. Jill and I have vowed, in addition to loving each other eternally, to truly leave the ranch and business and the politics of the world and the Great Plains behind. I’m going to try hard not to worry about any of that. (I’m not going to even think about what is happening in Egypt.) Already I am turning my attention to a country with no standing army and an amazing 5% of the world’s biodiversity. I swear that it is going to be a real vacation but already I’m trying to figure out how a country can have 25% of its land in National Parks – trying to understand how that works, what it might mean to the countries people and wildlife and food and contentment.