I think the weekend of July 14-15 will forever be just one more example of a weekend where I was reminded that I enjoy things the “old fashioned way,” learned some more humility, and am reminded that my smarter half is just that – much smarter than I.
For those of you who don’t know yet, we got engaged on July 15th. What follows is one version of the tale:
Part I: In which we left Carbondale…
On Thursday, July 12, we left Carbondale for the 6hr drive up to Chicago. We drove to Urbana and spent the night with Maya & Abraham, two of our friends. They spoiled us rotten with a superb home-cooked meal made from some wonderful local ingredients – many of them from their garden! I got to enjoy some local cheeses which was also fantastic.
Part II: In which “food” was the theme for the day…
Friday morning started with pancakes prepared by Abraham (cooked by me). Then Magdalen and I drove the rest of the way to Chicago where we went to the Taste of Chicago and watched celebrity chef Graham Elliot do a cooking demonstration while a nice thunder storm billowed overhead. It was pretty awesome (both the cooking and the storm!). Before Graham cooked, we got to meet him. He was really nice! I now follow him on twitter and he direct-messaged me.
After the cooking and rain storm passed, we went to the Chicago Cultural Center. If you have not been, you really must go. This is one of the great “free” Chicago attractions. Here is just one of the photos I took of the center:
Later we met up with my brother and had dinner after walking around and seeing more of Millennium Park. Then we zipped off to the grocery store. We had offered to cook breakfast for our hostess for the weekend (more on that later). After dinner, Magdalen and I went for a late night walk along the beach to relax, talk, and re-connect after a busy day.
Friday was quite wonderful, but nothing compared to Saturday! (that is called foreshadowing…)
Part III: In which there was more cooking…
We were staying with a friend of mine, Jamie, who lives near Wrigleyville (a neighborhood of Chicago). We were thrilled to find out that Jamie owns a large cast iron skillet and maintains a small garden plot next to her house in her yard! So, we made a lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs, greens, and fruit. We had brought peaches from Carbondale; we purchased amazing cherries (on serious sale) at the grocery store the night before; bell peppers, fresh herbs, and cherry tomatoes from the garden! Mixed the eggs and greens with some garlic, onions, & garden produce and we had a pretty fantastic breakfast!
After breakfast (ended up being noon before we got out of the door), Magdalen and I headed to my parents house for a quick lunch before heading to the house of a friend of my parents’. Jim, an elderly gentleman, is a (semi-retired?) professional photographer. He lives in a beautiful home made in the early 1800’s (we think) with beautiful high ceilings, an amazing hardwood parquet floor, and a plethora of photographs all over the place. Highlights from the visit included Jim showing us some really neat plate glass negatives (he acquired from a friend) and the beautiful prints of early 1920s Chicago that he was able to produce from the negatives.
Part IV: In which we went to the Chicago Botanic Gardens…. (the good stuff starts here for those of you who are just skimming)
We have recently become members of the Missouri Botanical Garden, which grants us free admission to 270 other gardens! My parents live a 5 min drive from the gardens. They go quite often. So often, in fact, that they sometimes call the gardens their ‘country club’ in jest.
When we entered the gardens, there was a sign indicating where flowers were in bloom (with charming specimens!). There was a beautiful white rose that was in full bloom in the Rose Garden! As Magdalen and I walked around, I was steering us toward the Rose Garden.
I think many of you know that we both enjoy photography, specifically, I love photographing flowers! Going to the Rose Garden was nothing of a surprise to the soon to be fiancée…
As we wandered along the gardens, she would find the flower and I would photograph it. Finally, we saw the shaded arbor near the fountain and sat down. Honestly, I was waiting for a moment where there were no people around (as we’re generally pretty private people), but there was this cute asian couple who decided to sit under the other end of the arbor (they saw B get down on one knee and I don’t think they wanted to interrupt us)! So, they got to be witnesses! (lucky them!)
While we were sitting there, I was talking about all of the lovely things about us that make our relationship wonderful (cooking, photography, board games, travel…etc), then I stood up, took the ring box out, and got down on one knee. Magdalen’s face immediately lit up in a bright smile as I asked her to marry me. She said yes.
Then there was some mushy stuff.
After walking around the gardens some more, including the Nut Grove (no comments on that one from the peanut gallery, please) and the amazing Fruit & Vegetable Garden, we headed back to my parents’ house for a celebratory dinner (we didn’t call anyone before we got there – we just spent time with each other). My mother took this photo after dinner as we were heading out:
Part V: Next stop, Ravinia Festival, in which we enjoyed an amazing night under the stars watching and listening to Maestro Christoph Eschenbach and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 in G Major. The night was truly magical.
Part VI: In which we discovered that my grandmother likes to “spread the news”…
Sunday consisted of two things, driving back to Carbondale and calling both of our families. We developed a bit of a communication plan. Saturday, we told our respective parents (permission had been previously obtained by me). Sunday was family and close friends. Monday it would become Facebook official. Whenever I finish this post the story will go public (and viral, I’m sure).
Exciting parts of Sunday include when one of my aunts asked when the wedding would be, I told her the answer, to which she responded, “Perfect timing! Just enough time to lose some weight and find a dress!” Another highlight was after calling my grandmother, we called some more of Magdalen’s family before starting on my aunts, and lo and behold, my grandmother had already called the aunts and told them before we had a chance. There was also a text message sent from one of my aunts to my father which said “Mother just called to tell me the news, So it will be all over town by noon.” Magdalen & I just laughed our way through it. Luckily we don’t mind sharing the sharing part of this adventure.
Part VII: In which we announce some future plans…
So, after a marvelous engagement weekend, we are looking forward to a late spring/early summer wedding in 2013, and a long and love filled life together.