Happily Even After
by Josh Noem
For our 15th wedding anniversary, my wife took me mushroom hunting, and it was every bit as glamorous as you might imagine.
We celebrated this milestone anniversary by getting away from home, leaving the kids and dog behind (thanks to Stacey’s parents), and heading into northern Michigan to a bed and breakfast at a winery. It was a beautiful and luxurious inn with gourmet breakfast offerings. We spent two nights away—it was a great vacation.
The best part of the time away was simply having time alone together. It was about a 5-hour drive, and when we arrived, we had no one else to tend to—we could simply do whatever we wanted. Life in a family with children is ruled by a clock and routines—bedtime, lunchtime, bathtime, time to wake up, time to get ready for church, time to do homework, time for baseball practice, and on and on. It was a blessed vacation to simply step off the train that is the daily family routine.
Which is perfect for an anniversary trip, right? No matter what the setting, we were glad to simply have time for each other. We talked and enjoyed good food and decent wine together, but most of all, we simply relaxed with one another. And in relaxing, we reconnected with who we are for each other, which was a lot of fun.
This brings me back to the mushroom hunt.
I found unending humor in pretending to be on an African safari hunting Morel mushrooms as our next big-game trophy. We had a terrible guide—the first thing she did wrong was to lead us into the woods downwind. She did nothing to help us prepare the correct camouflage, and I wore my hardwood pattern in a mixed pine habitat—I would have fit in better at a funeral. We were part of a group of 40 foodies making a racket like a New Orleans trumpet parade as we tromped through the woods. And the greenhorns wonder why they didn’t find anything!
Stacey and I were lucky enough to happen upon 4 or 5 false Morels, which are poisonous to some people, we were told. We didn’t wait to find out, though—we were carrying clubs and dispatched them before they could make a move. They were nestled in a small ditch and we pounded them into a fine puree before they even knew we were upon them. Poor devils would have been fit for cream of mushroom soup if they weren’t so dangerous.
In actuality, it had been too dry for mushrooms. A few others had found false Morels, but no true Morels were discovered (though I still think they were just the more clever species and had sensed our approach—truly a magnificent fungus!).
The hunt was to be followed by a 5-course, wine-paired dinner, in which each plate contained Morels, but the kitchen staff had mushrooms shipped in as a contingency, so the dinner went off fine.
We laughed a lot in those three days, which was good to do because it reminded us of what it is that has made “us” work for the past 15 years. The vacation let us step away from the house, the car, the job, even the kids, so that one thing could stand alone and be appreciated: us, together. That’s how it all started, and that’s what continues to make it all tick.
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