Her bouquet was made with flowers and grasses gathered from Minnesota, South Dakota, Missouri, and Texas–all parts of her history, her upbringing, her living and learning. Each place held a part of her heart and had shaped her into the loving, accomplished young woman who stood before us all.
We began our trip as the Maple trees shone with dazzling colors. What brilliance from a once-green tree!
Frost colored the edges of bent-over grass and dry leaves as we left Minnesota in anticipation of the Texas wedding!
Urban living and Wilderness camping were her two Minnesota loves. I used to marvel that she could coexist with either environment with the same confidence and at-homeness. She went from St. Paul college life to living in a tree house or canvas tent or log cabin for the summer. She organized and guided canoe trips and camper trips and served United Methodist Camping. Her maid of honor spent three summers with her at the Boundary Waters camp–kindred spirits of adventure.
We headed southwest to South Dakota to pick up G-Lo. We arrived as the sun was sinking in the western sky and the geese were grazing in the pasture that once supported the white-faced Herefords raised by my grandfather and then my parents. Generations of our Scandinavian relatives worked the land and are buried in the rural cemeteries where the churches no longer stand. Our history runs deep in this land.
The next morning, in the perpetual new beginning of a new day, we loaded the Buick and headed south.
Moving to a new school and state in the middle of Middle School is a daunting task at best, but she handled it with her typical take-charge attitude and organized a ‘Backpack across Brookings’ hiking trek with her new friends. She went on to compete in debate, develop her artistic abilities, serve in Student Council, and volunteer with South Dakota politics. Her three bridesmaids shared her interests, time, and energy–kindred spirits in creativity, service, and determination.
We traveled through Iowa to Missouri. The I-29 drive was familiar from the many times we drove north and south between the Missouri Brakes and the South Dakota Andersens. We followed the River Bluffs that had tiny farm places tucked into the hillsides. The trees showed the beginnings of fall change, and huge Sycamores rose above the others–I had forgotten how magnificent they were!
Missouri was her birthplace, her early childhood playground, her creative beginnings, and the place where her Daddy was born and raised. Her Brake relatives surrounded her with love, played backyard games and instilled a love of sports, co-created Christmas plays and shared a thousand laughs. Some of her aunts, uncles, and cousins traveled to Austin to honor her and share her special day, a childhood friend styled her hair, and her best friend from birth was there–kindred spirits in the love of Gram and Gramps, friendship, and all things Chiefs and Royals.
We jogged west into Kansas, zooming past milo fields and oil wells until we came to the vast, beautiful Flint Hills.
My prairie-girl heart felt at home in the sea of grass dotted with an occasional windmill, herds of Angus, and a coyote sighting. This was cattle country, and it was grand in size and glorious in nature.
Dusk shrouded the grassland in a rosy-hued cloak as we got another day closer to Texas.
An orange sunrise greeted us as we left Kansas and rolled into Oklahoma.
Oklahoma shocked my northern eyes with its red soil, shrubby greenness, and oil wells.
We saw the Arbuckle Mountains, oldest known formations between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains.
We saw Taylor Swift–okay, three semi trailers of her stuff–on the way from Nebraska to her next concert in Arlington, Texas!
We saw prickly pear cactus, high ridges of windmills, and crossed the Red River into Texas.
Fort Worth and Construction are the only things I remember about Texas until we got close to Austin. I was amazed how many miles and how extensive the construction projects spanned. Never would a northern city undertake such a feat in our short window of unfrozen time.
As we made our way to Austin, we were engulfed by 95 degree temperatures and wildfire smoke from the Bastrop County fires, not too far from the wedding venue. Welcome to Austin, Texas!
After college, she traveled to Marble Falls, Texas to work at The Outdoor School, instructing school-age children in outdoor recreation and the natural environment. It was there she cultivated many friendships and where she fell in love with Texas. It was there she met her husband-to-be–kindred spirits in life and love. Surrounded by their families, far-away friends, TOS and Austin friends, they began a new adventure together.
The world looks rosy in those heady, dazzling days of the beginning of a romance when we anticipate seeing and spending time with that special person. When the infatuation falls away, like the shimmering leaves of autumn, the real work begins. We examine our roots, our values, the things that matter to us, and we verbalize our wildest dreams of what we want in life. Then the big questions: Is this the person who will walk with me in love and respect, who will be his own person and allow me to be mine, who will commit to the hard work of partnership, who will hold my hand and guide me out of the woods when scary things happen? Is this love sustainable through a lifetime of choices, the huge commitment to parenthood or not, the really hard things in life that make your insides feel like a blank space of despair? Can this person make me laugh and feel truly loved year after year, forgive my mistakes and limitations, talk it out and shake it off? Do we make a good team, do we serve others, do we embody the things we hold dear? And when we realize that we have constructed a long list of Yeses to those big questions, we can move in bold style down the aisle in front of our people who love us and God who sustains us. No longer do we murmur, I wish you would…, but we profess with conviction I do, I will, and we walk together into the perpetual new beginning of each new day.