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my old man

November 15, 2012

“I can’t believe it’s your birthday today,” Col said this morning, gazing up at his bed-headed daddy. The kids have been driving themselves crazy over my present to Dan that arrived in the mail weeks ago and has since sat, wrapped and secretive, on a high shelf. This morning as Dan began to finally open it, Col said tentatively, “so, this present is mostly for all of us, right?”

Birthday hat from this fabulous etsy shop; Dan showed the kids a whole series of pictures from his boyhood, on a farm in New Brunswick, Canada.

I’m always aware of how the kids change from year to year, but I forget that, having met in our early 20’s, Dan and I have practically grown up together. I mean Patti Smith writes, Just Kids, about her and Mapplethorpe in the wilds of Manhattan in the 70’s, but there we were, Dan and I, just kids ourselves, navigating the crazy wilderness of our own 20’s together. Crazy, er, like, trying to snatch a baby crow (called a simp) from its nest to raise, and, well, calculatingly endearing ourselves to our mailman, so he’d let us tag along on his route.

The summer after we met, the same summer that I overheard Dan call me “his girlfriend” for the first time, I went to work for the Forest Service in Shawnee, Colorado (doing plant surveys), putting 300 miles of distance between us. We didn’t have cell phones or computers, but we wrote each other long letters and occasionally talked on the not-very-private house phone I shared with 5 other USFS employees.

We planned to meet up for 4th of July weekend and backpack in the Sangre de Christos; but with Dan carless and hitchhiking and neither of us with a cell phone, the best rendezvous spot we could come up with was the halfway spot between Shawnee and Durango: Saguache, CO (pop 494) at the theoretical landmark of the first in-town gas station coming from Dan’s direction.

Dan was right on time and presented me with a journal and a bag of homemade granola studded with slightly burnt raisins (always add the raisins after baking).

We’ve had a good, long run, baby. Let’s grow old together.

Besides the sushi we’re making tonight, we’ve given Dan the reins for a celebration tomorrow. He’s chosen to rise early (the best deer/elk viewing hours are at @&*!% dusk), drive to Pagosa Springs, marinate in the hot springs and then take the kids to the Wildlife Park. If you see us hunkered down over a roadkill off Hwy 160, be sure to stop and lend a hand! (Pagosa entertainment suggestions welcome; I’m not accustomed leaving the county.)

(To find out how old my hunk is you can read last year’s birthday post here; it’s pretty fun).

16 Comments leave one →
  1. ellen884 permalink
    November 15, 2012 9:59 pm

    Happy birthday Dan! What beautiful kids you two have produced, and so earnest too.

  2. Ike permalink
    November 15, 2012 10:01 pm

    Happy Birthday Dan. So glad you and Rachel found each other!
    Love Baba

  3. Diane H permalink
    November 15, 2012 10:22 pm

    I love this! Thanks for sharing and happy birthday, Dan!

  4. jaimebecktel permalink
    November 15, 2012 10:22 pm

    Happy birthday Dan! You’re an amazing man and I adore the both of yous! Your marriage inspires me and I look to your little homestead family as an example of what is possible in relationship. Love you.

  5. November 15, 2012 11:55 pm

    Many Happy Solar Returns Dan! Come visit any time you all are in the mood for some Redrock.

  6. George permalink
    November 16, 2012 8:02 am

    Happy Birthday and much love from NB! Looking great as always, Dan, and Dad would be so proud!

  7. November 16, 2012 10:06 am

    Happy Birthday Dan! Hot springs sounds like an awesome way to spend a birthday. My hubby is from NB too, by the way (Saint John).

  8. November 16, 2012 10:13 am

    What a wonderful life! Happy birthday to your man!

  9. Anonymous permalink
    November 16, 2012 10:37 am

    probably too late now, but for next time, 4 Mile Falls is a great hike! :)

  10. November 16, 2012 1:35 pm

    Happy Birthday Dan.

  11. November 16, 2012 2:43 pm

    Just gorgeous, Rachel, and a fitting tribute to your guy. Happy birthday, Dan, and many happy returns of the day.

  12. November 16, 2012 5:42 pm

    Happy Birthday to Dan! Hopefully you guys are having a blast in Pagosa Springs right now.

  13. Emmanuelle permalink
    November 16, 2012 11:23 pm

    This is funny, I always think of you and Dan as endearing, adult-sized kids, happy to share multiples adventures throughout the year – most of which are related to the raising of two baby humans, now bouncing around and chirping, experimenting on their own and cutting their own hair (not necessarily in the same proportions :o) (Have you told them the story of the baby crow?)

    Merry Birthday to Dan and warm wishes from Montréal!

  14. Tom Ryan permalink
    November 17, 2012 10:12 am

    Please share my best wishes with Dan. I miss you!

  15. November 17, 2012 10:16 am

    Happy Birthday Dan! And as a girl who “grew up” with my own hunk…. I hear ya.

  16. November 17, 2012 2:17 pm

    love the hat!

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