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  • Dear Kiki,

    This is part one of the long letter I promised you.

    In August, 2002, I went to visit my daughter. She was working as an environmental botanist for the US Forest Service in Michigan, in the LP (Lower peninsula). I visited her on the weekend and then during the week, I drove north to camp by myself on the UP (Upper Peninsula). I had also visited her in 2001, camped during the week and planned to return to the same campground.

    When I got there, the campground was full. I was disappointed, because I'd loved that campground! I drove further north and found another campground, got a site, pitched my tent, and went off to find pasties. These are little meat pies that are a specialty of the area. It had been a long drive north to the new campground and I had not seen any pasty stands for a long time as I drove, so I drove further north, taking a chance on unknown territory rather than returning to where I'd been the year before. Sure enough, I shortly came to a small town with restaurant with a huge sign that said, PASTIES!

    I stopped and went in and as soon as I entered, a little old man with white hair came running over, saying, "We're closed." I said, "Oh, I'm so sad. I wanted a pasty. Could you tell me where I could get one?" He said he would make me one if I would take it home. I said I was camping and it would be cold before I got home, but I would eat it very quickly if he would let me. I wanted to have it hot. He agreed.

    While I was eating the pasty, he asked if I had been to Tahquamenon Falls and I said no. He said, you have to go there . I said, I cannot, I have homework to do. (I was doing post graduate work at Vermont College). He said, "No, you don't understand. You MUST go, and you must go tomorrow." I demurred, repeating I could not. As I was leaving, he repeated, "You must got to Tahquamenon tomorrow."

    The next day, it was pouring rain. I sat in my car working on my homework. But I could not get that man's words out of my head. I looked at the map. It was 50 miles there and 50 back. In the pouring rain. I went. When I got out of my car, I saw a tall thin man with a white hair and a beard with a small boy. I thought the man was cute, handsome. I had a voice recorder for my poetry, and I said in my voice recorder, "Man at the falls with a boy." I intended to journal about the cute man I'd seen at the falls.

    We walked nearly together toward the falls. There was a series of overlooks and at each one, we ended up looking at the falls near each other. Finally, at the falls itself, the trail funneled into a narrow overlook that forced us to stand beside each other. It was still pouring rain. The man turned to me and said, "Nice weather. huh?" (Great opening line, huh?)

    I asked him if, since I was alone, he would mind taking my picture by the falls. He agreed and did so and then asked if I would return the favor. I took one of him and the boy. "My family," he said, making it clear that he and the boy were alone. We ended up talking and walking around the falls. I showed the boy my voice recorder, my little mini computer and my digital camera that showed pictures on the back (he'd never seen one).

    At the end of the afternoon, when we split up, I told the man (who's name I did not know) that if he gave me his email address, I would send him pictures I had taken of him and the boy, and he did. And I did. We began corresponding, gradually at first, just a little, and then more and more. I asked where he lived and worked and he lived in the LP of Michigan, in Detroit. I lived at the time in upstate NY (Syracuse). In November, we decided to meet halfway at Niagara Falls. I insisted on separate rooms--did not want to hop into the sack with some strange man no matter how nice he seemed via email. Or how cute he was in person.

    He obliged me and we began our courtship in earnest. I went to Detroit and met his mother for Thanksgiving and went again at Christmas 2002. He came to NY and met my family. It took until June of 2006 before we were able to marry, but here we are, happily married. He is the kindest man I know. We are very happy with each other. Not that we don't sometimes argue and certainly have various problems, but we have love and the comfort of each other. My new son is now 18 and headed off to college. He was 8 when I met him, ten years ago this month.

    It was so unlikely that we would meet, and that we would be compatible, but because of the strange nature of our meeting, I had faith it would work out, and it did.

    The picture above is from a scrapbook I made for Graham, about our meeting.

    (to be continued) Love, Mary XOX
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