My friend Ruth and I have our wedding anniversaries on the same day. We both have two young children and know how precious a night out with our hubbies can be. Last year, a few days before my fifth anniversary and her eleventh, we were talking on the phone and comparing battle plans.
“What are you guys doing to celebrate?” I asked her.
“Oh, I think we’re going out for dinner to Bhima's and then to a movie. We’re going to try to get away for a weekend too. What are you and D up to?”
“Well,” I said, “We’re going to the Legion in Lucknow. They’re having a dance.”
It’s not often that I can make Ruth go completely silent. Most of my city pals have never darkened the door of a Legion, much less celebrated a special occasion by dancing there. What can I say? Date night in the country can be a unique experience.
Don't get me wrong; there is a wide variety of stuff to do up here, just as there is in the city. You can still take your sweetheart to a movie, eat out at a posh restaurant, or see a live show. The difference is that the movie theatre is cosy and has fabulous popcorn, you can probably get into the restaurant without making a reservation a month in advance, and you're likely to recognize a relative performing at the theatre. But why bother with these boring old choices when there are so many other opportunities to get your romance on, country style?
Take the dump, for instance. A place often relegated to husbandly duty, the dump was a revelation to me the first time I was invited to come along. Yes, the smell in the summer is fit to gag you and sometimes you see rotting stuff you wish you hadn’t. But there are so many good things about the dump that cancel out the nastier bits. Like the dress code. No high heels, Spanx or hairspray are necessary. I simply pull on my grungiest jeans, D’s oldest sweatshirt, my trusty rubber boots and I’m good to go.
Then there's the truck. Many Bruce County women own trucks, or are used to driving them regularly, but riding in - or better yet, driving - a pickup is still a novelty to me. Especially when D says, “Your turn to back ‘er up, Kimmy,” and I have to navigate the truck backwards to the (gulp) edge of the dump pit, which is a gaping hole in the earth that looks big enough to swallow three tractor-trailers whole. Nothing gets the heart pumping like the thought of demolishing your spouse’s beloved vehicle, and nothing makes a country boy randier than watching a woman back up a large piece of machinery.
To me, the best part of the dump is when I have to clamber over the tailgate to help chuck stuff into the pit. There’s something incredibly freeing about getting rid of all the accumulated crap that’s built up over a season by sending it sailing as far as your skinny arms can throw. I also get wicked satisfaction from tossing armfuls of the twigs and brush I’ve cleared out of the gardens in the spring and fall; it feels good to trim it, but it’s even more gratifying to pitch it into the pit. And don’t underestimate the goofy, childish high you get when you throw in something breakable that makes a glorious smash. When your man raises an eyebrow and remarks, "Good one, hon'," you know your country romance is going strong.
To be honest, I never really thought of going to the dump as a "date" until the second time we went and the friendly clerk said, "So, out on another dump date today, folks?" My husband looked sheepish. "Hey, if you're out together without the kids, consider it a date," she reassured us, handing over two of her trademark lollipops. I decided she had a point. With both of us working full time and two active little ones at home, time alone with D had become a rare commodity. A dump date was fine with me.
Motorbike rides are another outing with D that I never tire of. I wouldn't have dared climb on the back of his elderly Honda in the city, but it's more exciting to bump over fields and scare seagulls than it would be to putt-putt our way through Waterloo traffic. Plus, on a motorbike we can get up close and personal with the mighty windmills, or take a mellow drive under a canopy of trees on the lower shore road. It’s just not the same in the city. We have so many motorbikey memories here, anyway; D knows that for me, the best motorbike date is a trip to the lighthouse, where we reminisce about our engagement (he knelt beside his motorbike at the foot of the lighthouse), and end up at the restaurant in Point Clark for some fries and souvlaki. It’s simple, and perfect.
Beach dates are a given, especially with my aunt’s cottage so close by. Swimming in heavily chlorinated city pools was never a favourite pastime of mine; I much prefer a stealthy skinny dip in the lake to a noisy, crowded pool that makes my hair smell like bleach for a day. I took D to the Goderich pool on a date night, since he loves swimming and it too cold for the beach, but I just can’t find my lovey dovey vibe at a public pool. D isn’t much of a beach person, so I treasure the times when he relents to a long walk on the sand without the kidlets tagging along. There’s just something about the purr of the waves beside us, the stars twinkling out above and the soft sand beneath our feet that brings out the lover in me. Even when D insists on wearing socks and shoes.
One date night I never pictured myself enjoying was spending a Saturday evening in the barn, milking cows. Now that we have two little ones in our lives, I’ve decided that pretty much any time together alone with D is an opportunity for romance, even in a stinky dairy barn. Leaning in for a quick kiss as we pass each other on the walkway, belting out our favourite songs to an audience of cows and cats and the odd squirt-of-milk fight makes our time together in the barn pleasant. There's something to be said about working side by side with the guy you love, even if you're up to your ankles in poop
We still catch the occasional movie or have supper out. But the date nights that stand out in my mind are the ones that could only happen up here in Someday land: learning to drive a tractor while cutting hay at 1 a.m.; throwing brush into the gully on a hazy September afternoon (and clocking D in the noggin with a wayward branch); taking long snowshoe tramps in snow that shone like diamonds all around us. I'll never forget the morning I wandered out onto our bedroom balcony and looked down to find my name growing in the grass; my hubby had drawn it in triple 16 fertilizer early in the spring without telling me. Stuff like that just wouldn't have happened back in Waterloo.
As D and I twirled around the creaky wooden floor of the Lucknow Legion last year on our anniversary, enjoying the familiar sounds of the Glen Boyd Orchestra, I couldn't stop smiling. Ruthie may have been skeptical of our choice of date, but she’s just never experienced romance, Someday-style.