Birthday Park-turision

congaree-(1)

It looks like this in the day…

It was alternating between dribble and downpour last night as we walked into the most lightless place in the state. The boardwalk was slick, but it had railings and I had a cane; I also had the ready, steady arm of the most beautiful woman in the world on her birthday. Really, the entire day had been more a gift for me than it had been for her — and while I in full honesty know she’d argue that point, I stand by my assessment.

At the Congaree National Forest we launched her final birthday endeavor. To be attended was one of the final nights of an annual firefly synchronization, and from last year’s experience rain did not dampen the spirits of these tiny little sparks. We had one poncho, umbrella and flashlight covered in red saran wrap; at about 9:30 we headed into wilderness complete save the slick, crooked boardwalk. It wasn’t a night to make the entire 2.4 mile boardwalk — safety conditions of sopping tenebrosity aside, there was the previous night’s inexplicable foot injury swollen to haughty, but not inoperable, levels. On her birthday she took the environment with caution, gasping louder than I did when the cane or a foot slipped; on her birthday she leaned in over a black, rain-soaked ear and whispered, “I love you so much.”

...and about like this at night.

…and about like this at night.

After a very little while it became clear that we were the only other living things watching what, to the fireflies, was probably a raucous good time akin to your typical college spring break. It was exciting to find ourselves so utterly alone in an opaque 26,546-acre wood, receiving from nature both burlesque and lavement. I could imagine her face dotted with clear beads of water reflecting the light of a smile I knew to be there.

There are plenty of things today that I could list on either side of a coin — none are things for which right now I am more grateful than the amazing woman who took my life from storm drain to, well, a 26,546-acre wood. Happy birthday my luckiest of all charms.

 

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