Date Nights

We have always tried to have a date night. It was easy when we were first married. Every night was date night. Then we added the kids (perhaps because of the frequent date nights); and then the date nights were a bit more sporadic. We would do things that were inventive. Get the kids to bed, watch a movie and have a special night all by ourselves. The time after the baby went to bed was our time - our date.

When we lived in the Dakota’s Rob worked with the teens of our church. When your husband is the youth director – date nights are possible more often than not. We seldom had a trouble finding a teenager that was willing to watch the kids. I loved going and getting the teenager, giving the instructions for the kids’ dinner and bed time and then heading out on a date with my husband. On these dates, we found our special places that we enjoyed and became ‘regulars’ on our nights out. Perhaps, my personal favorite place was a coffee shop a few blocks from our house. A lady had taken an old Victorian house and converted it into a coffee shop. Every room had a different theme and there were places all through the house where you could find to sit and enjoy your coffee and conversation. Old closets with the door removed and wiring brought in made for a nice quiet nook to occupy and read a novel or magazine, a lamp on the corner table next to the chair, not only lighting your book but warming the tiny spot with an atmosphere of seclusion. When we were there together, we would sit at a round garden table with two chairs, a coffee in my hand and a hot chocolate in my husband’s. The soft lighting and the quiet atmosphere lent itself to romance. In North Dakota, that was my favorite date spot.

Then we moved to the Green Bay area of Wisconsin. The dates were still frequent, like they had been in North Dakota. Every month or so would find Rob and I heading out the door, kids being watched by a baby sitter and the two of us ready to enjoy our date. Our date spot changed with the move and we found ourselves frequenting a book store in town. We would browse the shelves for books and bargains, enjoy dinner out at a restaurant and head home after a stop at an ice cream shop.

Then Rob’s job changed, he became the senior pastor of the church and life seemed to get busy. Very, very busy. Date nights seemed to be few and far between; and when we were able to fit in the time for a date, my husband was too tired to want to head out and find something to do. Then, we sat down and had a talk. Date nights would need to start back up. We needed time as a couple; and the deacons insisted that he take a day off from church work. So, on his day off, we made the daylight hours family time and in the evening we got away from the normal schedule and had time for each other. In the midst of a job change, something else had happened. The kids were getting older and the need for a babysitter was not there. We had a built in babysitter in Rachel. Oh joy, oh delight! The book store was frequented more often, as was the Goodwill and local thrift store. Rob built a good part of his library during those date nights. Goodwill seemed to always provide a place for him to find a book or two that he needed for his growing library.

When we moved to our current house we made a commitment to our date nights. Despite a job change that paid less than the pastorate we were determined to spend one night a week with each other. We would just have to do it on the thrifty plan. We were in a quandary; not only did we not have money to spend, but our small little town did not offer a lot to do on a weekly basis. There were no coffee shops, no thrift stores and no book stores to occupy our time out and away from the kids. In our town, restaurants are few and far between; and though all of them in town are good, the money in our wallet did not match being able to frequent them each week. I will say though, we have become pretty well known at the Chinese restaurant in town. They know what we want before we ever sit down! On the nights we go there we share a plate on General Tso Chicken. (You might just want to visit Mayville and try it! It is quite good!!) We wanted, though, to find someplace that was ours. The selection was as limited as our budget! We drove the country roads and looked at farm steads and dreamed of what life would be like in the country with a couple of acres of land. We enjoyed the drives; but we still lacked a place to call our own.

Then we found it! Our special date spot turned up in the most unusual of places during one of our country drives. We found a steep hill and drove up to the top. The sight was breathtaking as the view before us was miles and miles of the farmland that surrounds our town. We knew it the moment we stopped the car and took in the view that we had found that for which we had been searching. This would be our date spot! It is the most favorite of all the date spots we have ever had. It also is located in the most unusual spots we have ever frequented. You see, the hill offering us beauty, peace and quiet and seclusion is located at the local cemetery on the edge of town!

When we need time to get away, or have a date night that requires no errands to be run, we head up to ‘our spot’. We get to the top of the hill, roll down the windows, turn off the motor and take in the view. The land surrounds us like a quilt that changes with the seasons. In the fall the golden wheat blows like a flag upon the land. Its beauty is breathtaking. I feel that perhaps, there is not a rose as beautiful as a field of wheat golden with the sun hews, blowing in the wind and waiting for the day of harvest to come. In the fall, we sit and enjoy the golden view as we talk; taking in the colors of brown, gold and red in the quilt before us.

In winter, the hills are covered with a blanket of snow. Blinding white fills our gaze as we take in the miles and miles of quiet earth sleeping beneath the snow so white. We sit in the car, windows rolled up, a warm drink in our hands as we talk. We dream about the future, talk through the present and reminisce about the past. On the hill, the present surrounds us to the right. Hills of white blind us as we look at the quiet countryside; but on the other side of us, to our left, the grave stones are a reminder that we won’t always have the present. Perhaps it is rather odd – this date spot we have found - but as we sit there on the hill in the cold of winter, I am reminded to enjoy the little moments because death will call all of us and we will be left with precious memories of days gone by. It seems fitting, really, to see the reminder often. Sometimes in a marriage and family it is easy to forget to live today and enjoy each other. Winter on the hill reminds me that life is always changing.

In the spring our spot has a beauty all its own. The brown earth, not yet a canvas of life, lies before us as a quilt. A quilt that, though plain and lacking color, offers a promise of warm days coming soon in the near future. The ground before us is empty and brown; but finally can be seen now that the snow has melted its way into the depths of the soil. Soon there will be grains and seeds placed within the brown mounds, and life will be surrounding us in a few short weeks. The windows stay up on the car as we talk - the spring air too cool yet to enjoy it blowing through the car as we sit there. We spot flocks of birds flying overhead as they make their return to their summer home. The Canadian Geese seem to honk their hellos as they fly overhead. I restrain the desire to roll down the windows and holler a “welcome home” to the returning birds. I love the return of the birds to our area every spring. Our hearts are light as we have the assurance that warm sunshine is coming and winter’s cold grip is being loosened. I think we dream more about our future and make plans for our family more in spring than any other season.

Summer allows us to enjoy picnics and talks up on the hill. We sit on top of the hill, roll down the windows of the car and allow the fresh air to fill our lungs. In the summer we watch as the farm land becomes alive with the crops of the season. We see the small green leaves peaking up through the brown dirt; only to find on our return visit the small leaves are now big plants. Each visit they are bigger and I wonder within my mind if I am the only one who is amazed at how fast a crop can take shape. Are there are others that are in awe that so much of the food that feeds our land is grown in just a few short weeks? We sit on summer nights and watch as the bats make their entrance into the evening sky. We tend to roll up our window upon seeing the flying black creatures; but I always am amazed at their flight patterns and enjoy watching them in the protection of our vehicle. Forty-nine cent cones are enjoyed as we talk about our days and plans for the next school year. Summers on the hill bring a close to a long day and gives us opportunity to enjoy being able to talk in solitude without children interrupting or squabbles requiring us to referee.

So when we need to get away, when the kids need to be out of earshot of our conversation, you will find us on the hill enjoying the view. Through the years we have had our date nights, we have had our places of business to frequent; but there has never been, and there will never be, a better date night place than we have here - on the hill. It’s ‘our spot’.

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