April 1 was a warm, sunny Friday in both the Magic Valley and Pocatello, with temperatures expected to be 10 degrees or so above normal. That meant mid-70s at the refuge, and mid-60s when Greg got to Vic.

   The warmth was evident as Greg drove through the refuge. There were still bits of ice along shadowy pond edges, but generally speaking,  all the water areas were open. More ducks had appeared in the past couple of days, and he saw half a dozen different species as he drove by. Canada geese were already paired up, and there were quite a few shorebirds. Tree swallows swarmed overhead, at times.

   As usual, Greg stopped for hamburgers, picked Vic up at her dorm, and they went to their motel. After a period of welcoming each other back, then consuming burgers and fries, they settled down on the couch.

   “Greg,” Vic began, “I’ve been thinking…”

   “Oh, no!”

   “Stop it! You like it when I think.”

   “I do like it when you think. It’s always exciting to follow you down rabbit holes, into labyrinths, across to parallel universes, into limestone caverns replete with stalactites and stalagmites…”

   “That last is your fantasy, not mine.”

   “Oh, you’re right. My point is that I do love to follow your mind wherever it goes. So, where are we going now?”

   “I’ve just been wondering if we’re in a rut.”

   “A rut?”

   “No, that’s not the right word. I just mean that our lives have become so orderly, so predictable. We greet each other with a long, delicious kiss – to express how much we’ve missed each other. We eat burgers and fries. We sit on the couch, and talk about relatively unimportant things until we fall asleep. When we wake, we talk a little more, maybe get something more to eat, and eventually go to bed. Before we sleep, we have a nice, sexy romp under the covers. We wake up next morning, have breakfast, settle down to more serious discussions… Do you see what I’m getting at? Should we be changing anything, or is this our future, already decided?”

   “Well, speaking just for me, I would like our nice, sexy romps to occur more often than once every three weeks.”

   “Greg, you know that’s not what I’m talking about. I mean, have we already set the course for our future life, our future weekends?”

   “So, you’re not ruling out romps every weekend?”

   “Greg! I’m sort of serious.”

   “Okay, I’m sorry. I’ll behave. I don’t know why you’re thinking about this today, but I’ll tell you what I think. Our lives are circumscribed by circumstances, right now. (How’s that for two big words in one short sentence?) We don’t have a lot of time together, or a lot of flexibility when we are together. We have a combination of things we need to do, and things we want to do, and we just put them together the best ways we can. We vary with a hike, or a football game, or television, but there are only so many things we can squeeze in, and only so many combinations of where they can fit in our time schedule.

   “Will it always be this way? No. Even in the short term, we’ll have school breaks when we’re together almost every day. Looking a little farther ahead, we may find school and work schedules can merge every weekend. When we get you through school – or maybe even during school, depending on where we live – we’ll be counting the days we’re apart, rather than the days we’re together. Someday, there will be babies added to the family, and a whole new set of priorities.

   “What I’m saying is that life will go on, but will be changing all the time. We’ll have routines – some because we like them, some because that’s just how life is. The routines will change as our circumstances change, but we’ll always keep what we want to keep. I think we’re doing the best we can right now, and I think it’s pretty great.”

   “I think we are, too. I think I’d just like things to move along a little faster.”

   “I hear you, Vic.”

   “And right now – so as not to break up our routine – I think I’d like to take a nap on your shoulder for a while.”

   “As I’m sure I’ve said before, my shoulder is always available to you.”


   The rest of their day and night followed their usual routine very closely. In the morning, Greg suggested a change. “I thought of something different to do today, but it involves something I didn’t get a chance to tell you, yesterday. I got a call from Mac last Monday.”

   That interested her. “What did he have to say?”

   “He acknowledged my letter, and thanked me for it. He said he would definitely get me off the refuge before next winter.”

   “To go where?”

   “That’s apparently still up in the air, but he said enough to make me wonder if maybe it’s pretty far along. First, he said that he and your dad had talked about the winter caretaker, and had decided to go that direction. Your dad will offer the job to Tim, first. Then, he asked if I would be willing to stay at the refuge until Thanksgiving – quote, if that fit with other plans. That way, there  would be a clear transition from manager to caretaker. I said yes, if (quote) it fit with other plans.

   “Okay, then he said that he was aware we’d be looking for the best geographical fit we could get with your schooling. That doesn’t sound like he’s thinking of southern California for me! Then – the topper, I thought – he brought up John’s assistant position, again – not specifically with my name on it, but that it would likely be available next summer or fall.

   “I may be reading too much into it – I don’t know how Mac thinks – but I was left with the impression that he was seriously considering us for Idaho Falls. He was talking to your dad when I let the office, but I don’t know if it was about that.”

   Vic was silent beside him for a moment or two. “Would you like to work for John?”

   “I think definitely yes. I need more experience to qualify for the kinds of jobs we might go for, later. The Idaho Falls refuge has a very active program compared to our current spot, including a lot of public use – especially, bird watchers and researchers. I would love that, and I might be able to get some interesting non-waterfowl projects going. Your school and my work might actually be slightly closer than it is, now – certainly a ‘plus,’ in my mind. Along with that, you and I would have a definite home in Magic Valley until Thanksgiving, and then a real home at Idaho Falls, after that. It sounds pretty great, to me.”

   “It does to me, too. Oh, I hope it come true! So, what were you thinking about doing, today?”

   “Well, it’s a nice warm, sunny day. I thought it might be nice to go for a drive. There’s a State wildlife area up north of Idaho Falls – Market Lake – that’s supposed to be a good bird watching spot. We could go there, and look around a bit. John’s refuge is not very far beyond. Finding we were so close, we could casually drop in – ‘hi, we were in the neighborhood’ – case the joint, visit with anybody there, and see if they know anything that we don’t.  How’s that sound?”

   “I’m game. Let’s do it.”

   They got dressed, had breakfast in the coffee shop, and were soon on their way north. Market Lake proved easy to find, just off the freeway about 15 miles beyond Idaho Falls. The ice breakup was a little behind Magic Valley, but much of the water area was clear. A dike through the marsh made it easy to observe most of the same duck species Greg had seen leaving his refuge. There were also western and eared grebes, Franklin’s gulls (maybe just arriving?), and various other birds. They stayed about an hour, then traveled north a short distance to the Federal refuge.

   As they drove up to the office, a man came out of the assistant manager’s house, and asked if he could help them.

   “Are you Dan?” Greg asked. “I’m Greg Cleveland, assistant manager down in Magic Valley.”

   “You beat the moving van by several months?”

   “Pardon me?”

   “Aren’t you here to help us pack, and speed us on our way?”

   Greg gave a puzzled glance to Vic. “I’m a little confused,” he said to Dan. “We were just in the vicinity, and stopped in to say hello to John and Annie. What’s this about a moving van?”

   Now, it was Dan’s turn to look puzzled. “You’re the one who’s going to take my place here when we leave, aren’t you?”

   “Not as far as I know.”

   While they were talking, a young woman had come out on the porch, and stood by Dan. “Hi, I’m Dan’s wife, Jean. You’re Greg, who may or may not be transferring here, and you’re…?” She turned to Vic.

   “Hi, Jean. I’m Victoria – Vic – Anderson, Greg’s fiancé, and daughter of Greg’s boss.”

   “Chuck Anderson!” exclaimed Dan. “He’s the one taking John’s place!”

   “No, no!” said Vic. “That isn’t right!”

   “We didn’t even know John was leaving,” Greg added.

   Jean stepped forward. She was about Greg’s age, of slight build, but with a certain air of authority about her. (Vic thought she might be a school teacher.) “Look, some of the information we have is clearly wrong. Let’s go inside, have a cup of coffee, and see if we can sort it out.”

   They sat around the kitchen table. Jean found a Coke for Vic, the rest had coffee. “Okay,” Jean led off. “Okay, Greg. You didn’t come to help us pack. So, why are you here, and what do you know about us moving?”

   “Okay. Today, we’re here just because we were out sight-seeing, got this close, and decided to come on and say hello to John and Annie. Vic is in school at ISU, and we started out the day watching birds at Market Lake. Now, the other part of the question: I met John last summer, when he stopped by the refuge on his way home from some meeting. I gave him a short tour of our refuge. In the course of our discussions, he asked what my plans were. I’d only been out of school a few months at that point, and just said I assumed I’d move on to another refuge eventually. That’s when he described this refuge, and said that you had been talking about leaving sometime this year. Later, Mac mentioned that John had talked to him about possible replacements for you, and John had named me as a potential.

   “That was the end of it until last fall, when Vic and I got talking about our future plans, and I remembered my discussion with John. We drove up here one day from Pocatello, just to look around. Annie invited us to lunch, and John gave us a quick tour. I guess you were gone that day. Anyway, John once again mentioned your probable departure, and I told him to keep me in mind – that I would probably apply if the job materialized. That’s kind of the end of our story. In recent talks with Mac, he has said he plans to move me before winter, but without specifics, so far.”

   Vic took up the conversation. “So, what’s this about John moving, and about my father coming here?”

   Dan acted a little embarrassed. “I think I may have heard some things that were only tentative, but that I took for fact. John talked to Mac about a week ago, and John filled me in on what they talked about. By the way, John and Annie are up in Montana this weekend. Anyway, John told me that one of the managers up in Montana is retiring this summer, probably about July. John and Annie really want to get back to Montana for family reasons, and I guess he made his pitch to Mac about moving there. He made it sound like Mac had definitely said okay, but maybe I read too much into that. Then, John said that Mac had offered this refuge to your dad, Vic, but if you don’t know anything about it, it sounds like it is maybe just a possibility. John talked about you coming here, Greg, in much the same way – that he and Mac had ‘talked about it.’

   “Sorry if I jumped the gun on some of this.”

   “I’ve been thinking as you talked,” said Vic. “Your believing my dad was coming here was a real shock. If it was true, it’s hard to believe he wouldn’t have said anything to Greg about it. On the other hand, maybe it isn’t so far-fetched. Daddy is definitely transferring somewhere this year. He and mom have been thinking seriously about going back to North Dakota but, if not for that, this refuge would be a very logical move for them. Mac would have seen that, and maybe even offered it on a tentative basis – if they didn’t find someplace they liked more. I think Greg and I need to find out just what is going on.”

   Greg addressed Dan and Jean. “How about you? We’ve been hearing for almost a year that you (quote) want to move east, but we’ve never heard any details. What’s your situation?”

   Dan started. “Jean and I are both Ohioans. We’re very distantly related, my ancestors – Sheldons and Haywards – arriving in northwest Ohio from New Brunswick, Canada, in the 1830s. Jean has Sheldons and Garvers, the Garvers arriving just a little later. Since then, the families have dispersed into Indiana, Iowa, and other places, but there’s still a core group – including both Jean’s and my closest relatives - around Defiance, Ohio. We both grew up there, and it feels like home.”

   Jean entered in. “Some people wonder how anybody, once escaped from Ohio, would choose to go back. It’s too hot or too cold, too humid, too many thunderstorm, too many tornadoes… That’s true, but it still feels like home.”

   “My parents feel the same about northeast North Dakota,” said Vic. “How could anybody in their right mind want to go back? But, as you say, that’s home.”

   Dan took back the narrative. “I went to a college not far from home. That’s where Jean and I eventually met. Anyway, they didn’t have anything like a wildlife management course, but I pieced together a degree that was half biology and half agriculture. It was sufficient to get me a temporary job at Ottawa Refuge, at that time a brand-new addition to the federal refuge system. They liked us well enough there that, when this position came open a year later, they urged me to apply. I did, and got a permanent appointment out of it. We’ve been here a little over three years now, and have enjoyed it and learned a lot…”

   “And produced two new Idahoans,” Jean interposed “3-year old Dan Jr., and 1-year old Darcy, both blissfully silently napping at the moment. But we’d like them to grow up Ohioans, or at least Mid-westerners, not Idahoans.”

   “So,” continued Dan, “We’ve been keeping our eyes open for possible transfers. Nothing solid yet, but a couple of pretty good leads for later this summer. If we go – and if you come – this is a great refuge, a nice community, and a pretty nice house. I think you’d like it here.”


   They talked for a little longer, then Greg and Vic started back to Pocatello. “That was unexpected,” said Greg, unnecessarily.

   “It certainly was. I think we should call Daddy tonight, and see what is really going on. You know what else I would like to do tonight?”

   “I can only hope.”

   “Well, I’m probably not thinking about what you’re hoping for the most – although I wouldn’t  entirely rule that out for later – but I was thinking of a pepperoni pizza, served with a bottle of wine that it is illegal for me to drink, but that I hope you brought to Pocatello with you.”

   “I think the pizza and wine are quite deliverable, and I’ll keep my hopes up for the other.” 

   It was late enough when they got back to the motel that they stopped at the front desk before they went upstairs, and ordered the pizza. David, the desk clerk so enamored with Vic, was on duty.

   “David, we haven’t seen you the last couple of times we’ve been here. You remember Vic?

   Vic held out her hand, and he took hold. “Hi, David. It’s nice to see you, again. How was your winter?”

   He had a little trouble getting the words out, but he gallantly tried to talk to her, without seeming too flustered. With business slow in midwinter, he said, he had taken some time off, and was just then returning to full-time duty. They chatted a few more minutes.

   “You still have him bewitched,” Greg whispered, as they walked away.

   “He’s nice. I like him.”

   When Greg came back down for the pizza, he noticed a copy of the Friday newspaper. David said it was okay for him to take it upstairs with him. Vic asked him about it.

   “Your dad and I were following a story. I haven’t seen anything about it in a few days, so I thought I’d check.” He set it aside, gave Vic the pizza box, and went to his pack to get the wine.

   “I tried something different this week. After extensive research – which involved asking the sales person for advice – I learned that a Chianti – pronounced kee-yawn-tee – is the most popular wine worldwide to have with Italian pizza. It is – to quote the label – a dry, red wine. It has a moderate alcohol content.”

   “You are turning into a true wine connoisseur. How lucky I am to have found you.”

   “I agree. You got a real prize in me.”

   They settled down to their pizza and wine. After a few sips, Vic pronounced the wine very nice. “I can see why it’s so popular with pizza. I like it much more than I did the Cabernet, and maybe even a little better than the Pinot.”

   “I agree. It’s nice and light, probably deceptively so, as it does have a fairly high alcohol content. You could probably get very drunk on it without realizing you were in danger. However, I think it might take a bottle or two, not a couple of small glasses.”

   “So, I’m probably safe?”

   “Well, certainly from that particular danger.”

   Greg set down his last piece of pizza, and picked up the newspaper. “Your dad and I were following a story about an American bomber that crashed in Spain. Had you heard anything about it?”

   “No. I don’t usually see that kind of news. I seldom get a paper to read.”

   “The crash actually happened a month or so ago, after the B-52 hit a jet plane while they were doing a refueling in the air. The real news is that the B-52 was carrying a load of hydrogen bombs when it crashed. Nobody has said why an American plane was flying over Europe, loaded with H-bombs. We’d probably never have known about it if not for the crash. None of the articles we saw said anything about how many deaths, or how much damage there was. It was probably substantial, because we’re paying quite a bit of money to the local people.

   “I guess none of the bombs exploded. We probably would have heard about that, but one got dumped in the Mediterranean Sea before the planes went down. The last news I saw was that the bomb had finally been located, but that they were having trouble lifting it out of the water and onto a ship. That was about a week ago, but I don’t see anything in this paper about it. I’ll have to ask your dad if he’s seen anything more about it.”

   He flipped through a couple of pages. “Here’s something that might interest you. Do you know about an ISU Freshman Retreat, being held in Jackson Hole in a couple of weeks?”

   “I just heard about it. I guess it happens every spring. They get a bunch of. Freshmen together, to brainstorm how the school could do better by the students. It sounds interesting. I don’t know how they pick the people who will go.”

   “The whole list of names is here. There were thirty-six selected. It looks like thirty-three are from Idaho, two from California, and one from Montana.”

   “Let me see the list. Maybe I know some of them.” Vic scanned the article. “I see at least two women from my dorm. I can probably get more info from them. Can I copy the names?”

    “Let’s just tear out the article. David was just going to throw the paper away.”

   They set aside the paper, and concentrated on finishing their pizza. Greg poured the last of the wine, and they ate and sipped contentedly.

   “Oh, what time it is?” Vic asked, suddenly. “We should call Daddy before ‘Gunsmoke’ starts.”

    Greg checked his watch. “If we call in fifteen minutes or so, that should give plenty of time. You can put the call on our room bill.”

   “No, I’ll call collect. I don’t call them that much, and they expect me to reverse the charges.”

   When the call went through, Mandy answered the phone. “Hi, big sister. How are things going up there?”

   “We’re okay. How about you? Is school getting worse than ever?”

   “Yes, it is. No work is getting done. I don’t know why they don’t just let us go home until graduation.”

   “I always thought it was a test for the teachers. If they didn’t commit suicide, or murder more than five seniors, they were rehired for the next year.”

   “That would be cruel and unusual punishment. I think they should get immediate retirement, with full pay.”

   “They would probably agree with you. Is Daddy around? I need to talk to him about something.”

   “Yep, he’s here. Hey, dad! Your eldest wishes to speak to you. Talk to you later, sis.”

   Chuck’s voice came over the phone line. “Hello, eldest daughter. What’s up?”

   “We need a little clarification, Daddy. Greg and I drove up to John O’Brien’s refuge today, and there learned that both you and Greg are transferring there.”

   There was a long moment of silence. “Did you hear this from John?”

   “No, from his assistant, Dan Hayward, who heard it from John. John wasn’t around to confirm or deny.”

   Another moment of silence. “Mac didn’t want any of it to get out yet. Besides, what you heard isn’t quite correct.”

   “How uncorrect is it?”

   “Let me get your mom and Mandy out here, so we can all hear this at the same time. Mandy, Allie, come out here a minute, okay?”

   They assembled around the phone. Chuck addressed Alice, so all could hear. “Our conversations with Mac got out early, and incorrectly, so I think we better just bring everybody up to date.” Alice nodded yes. “Vic, I talked to Mac on the phone last Monday. Greg will remember, because Mac had talked to him first. Anyway, Mac told me that one of the refuge managers up in Montana is retiring this summer, and John really wants that job. Mac thinks he will give it to him – but that’s not a done deal, yet. If John goes, Mac offered me his project leader position.  He knows we’d like to go to North Dakota, but he gave me his sales pitch – which is a pretty good one – and told me to talk to your mother about it. If we tell him we definitely don’t want it, he will offer it to someone else. If we give him even a tentative ‘yes,’ he will hold the job for me, but I can keep looking for other possibilities. He sweetened the offer even more by saying that I could change my mind even after I’d been officially transferred to Idaho Falls.

   “Your mother and I have talked about it at length, and we both agree that we don’t want to absolutely reject the offer.” He looked at Alice again for agreement, and she nodded her head. “And it’s nice of Mac to give us essentially an open-ended time frame on how long we look for something else, but I think maybe that’s unfair to everybody. What I’m thinking about – and I’m looking at your mother right now, to be sure she agrees – is to tell Mac that, if we don’t have something else by then, we’ll accept the transfer just as soon as John’s paperwork is finalized. That sounds like it would be in late July or August.” Alice nodded ‘yes.’

   “Okay,” said Vic, “That’s pretty clear, and sounds good. So, what about Greg?”

   “Mac hasn’t committed to anything – at least, to me – but I’d be willing to bet that – whether or not your mother and I go to Idaho Falls – Greg will be appointed assistant manager, as soon as Dan leaves. I think – and this is conjecture on my part – Greg will be assigned to the new refuge just as soon as the position is open, but that Mac will want him to stay as acting manager here until around Thanksgiving, when we’ll make a formal transition to winter caretaker.”

   “What happens if Dan doesn’t find something?”

   “Then, I’m pretty sure that I, or whoever becomes manager, gets to have two assistants through the winter. In contrast to this place, I think there will be enough work to keep all three busy through the winter months.

   “Is that what you need to know?”

   “Yes, Daddy, thank you. It all sounds good. Can I talk to Mom a minute before I hang up?”

   Alice came on the phone. “Is this really all right with you, Mom?”

   “It is. As a matter of fact, I think it may turn out to be better for us than immediately moving back to North Dakota. I think we need to get back to real refuge work for a while. You know, I love it on the refuge. It was just the last couple of years that the isolation got to me. We won’t have that, this time around.”

   “It all sounds really good, Mom. I better go. I love you all.”


   Greg had heard only one side of the conversation, but had figured out most of it. Vic clarified a few points. “So, still speculative,” said Greg, “But looking more solid all the time.”

   “How do you feel about it, all?”

   “I feel very good about it, especially if it turns out we’re sharing the refuge with your mom and dad.”

   “Yes, I thought about that, too. That will be fun.”

   They had left Chuck with enough time to see “Gunsmoke,” and they decided to watch it, also. By the time it was over, they were both realizing how very tired they were after the stresses and confusions of the day. They retired to their bed soon after the show was over. Vic was able to help Greg achieve what he had been hoping for. After that, they both drifted off into a long, deep, peaceful sleep.


   “That was quite a day,” Greg said, next morning to his bed partner. “I was exhausted. I don’t think I woke up once during the night.”

   “I didn’t, either. How does it all feel to you this morning?”

   “Still unsettled, but I think headed in the right direction.  If it continues to work out that way, we now have some kind of tentative timetable. If your parents do indeed take the job up here – and I kind of guess they will, don’t you? – we’ll all still be together up to the time we’ve proposed for our wedding. That should make planning easier”

   “The little bit Mom said when I talked to her alone left me with the impression that she really wants to come here, now. It sounds like no moves will take place until late July or August, so she, Mandy and I will be together to get my wedding dress made, and plan the other details. As you said, that will make it all so much easier.”

   Greg was silent beside her. “Greg, is something wrong?”

   “No,” he said, quietly. “Everything is feeling very right. I was just picturing you in your wedding gown, walking up the aisle toward me, and I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so happy!”

   She cuddled against him. “It is going to be nice, isn’t it?”


   They got out of bed a little later, had breakfast, then came back and straightened up the room a bit. As usual, that left them with about an hour until check-out time. As usual, they settled back down on the couch, until they had to leave.

   “This weekend turned out to all be about the refuges,” said Greg. “Did you have anything else you wanted us to talk about?”

      “II don’t think so. All my school work is going just fine, but nothing out of the ordinary to talk about. Oh, wait. I do have something. My Government professor searching through newspapers turned up some information on the Des Moines arm band story. On March 16, the students and their parents did file a complaint in the U. S. District Court against the school board, for violating their free speech rights. Their attorney said that the arm bands were to 'express a point of view.' I guess that's their key point. The quote in the paper was that 'The U. S. Supreme Court has defined the right of free speech as including peaceful demonstrations of points of view.' This certainly seems to fit. The article didn't have any information on when the case might actually be heard. As you said, it could be a long time. I'm really glad they sued, anyway.

  "On our letter to the editor, I’ve had absolutely no more contacts, so I guess that exercise is over. Do you think we did any good?”

   “I guess we’ll never know, for sure. I think you can be proud that there was a lot of response to your letter, and that a lot of people obviously talked about it – not the least important being the  discussions in your Government class. Besides showing off your obvious talents for researching, organizing, and writing, I think we have to assume it did some real good.

   “I don’t have anything real important,but I did clip a couple of items out of your dad’s old newspapers last week. Let me get them.” He reached into his pack, and pulled out a manila envelope. “The first is about a meeting LBJ had with Congress. I think I’ve always assumed that the President and Congress met face-to-face all the time, but I guess it’s actually pretty rare. Anyway, I guess he’s been criticized pretty openly and severely by both the ‘doves’ and the ‘hawks’ about how he’s handling the war. According to the newspaper, he pretty much shrugged off the so-called ‘peace bloc,’ told them that each one of then should grow a pair of… Well, not be so chicken-hearted. He’s a lot more worried about the pro-war group, who are saying that he’s pursuing a ‘no win policy,’ and should be making a bigger military effort. Personally, I’ve thought that he and his military advisors were pretty steadily accelerating the fighting, but I guess not enough for some in Congress.

   “LBJ’s response to Congress was pretty odd, I thought, if the paper quoted him correctly. Here, let me read it to you. ‘The President replied evenly that it was essential for the country to understand the unique nature of the war. The annihilation of the North Viet Nam government is not our goal, much less the destruction of Communist China. We had not set the boundary between North and South Viet Nam at the 17th Parallel, the President went on, but there it was – and there it was going to stay. U. S. policy, he told Strom Thurmond, was to keep Communist aggression on the north side of the 17th Parallel.’

   “Is that really his reason for all the bombing, fighting, and dying – to stop the Communists at some imaginary line? He’s not even trying to rid the world of Communism – which seems to have been the most stated reason for both Viet Nam and Korea? And the ‘hawks’ in Congress want him to do even more? I don’t get it!”

   “I don’t, either, and I don’t believe that his ‘explanation’ will make most Americans more appreciative of what’s going on. Wow!

   “So, what’s your other clipping?”

   “Well, it may not be quite so significant as the President’s Viet Nam policy – it certainly isn’t quite so urgent. It’s just… Well, let me ask you this way. Do you think it’s too soon for us to be planning our vacation for 2001?”

   “Are you talking about the year 2001, in the next century – 35 years from now? If you are, then yes, I think it’s a little early. What’s this all about?”

   “Let me read you a little bit of the article. ‘Two scientists today confidently have forecast round trips to Mars and Venus by the year 2001.’ Think about that! And it might only cost $6,400 per person – although the other scientist said it might actually cost about $35,000. If we started saving now, we might be able to afford $6,400 apiece, but $35,000 – well, $70,000, for the two of us – is probably out of the question.”

   She stared at him. “Is this a joke? Well, I know you’re joking about going, but is the idea a joke?”

   “It wasn’t presented as a joke. These guys were talking at a symposium sponsored by the American Astronautical Society, so there must be some science behind it. The practicality of it is something else, again. The article says it would take two years for a round trip to Venus, and a year to Mars. I think I read somewhere else that it would take almost a year just to get to Mars, then at least that long to get back, again. Even if a person had the money, I can’t believe many people would want to commit to that long a trip.”

   “So, I probably don’t need to start packing?”

   “Probably not.”

   “So, why don’t you take me back to my dorm before this conversation gets any sillier?”


   At the dorm, Mrs. McPherson asked if they’d been out enjoying the sunshine. Vic told her about their trip to Idaho Falls. “It’s still not certain, but it’s looking more and more like Greg will be transferring up there by next fall. And there’s more exciting possibilities, too. You know I told you that my parents will be transferring somewhere this summer? Well, it’s looking like my dad may be the new refuge manager up there, so he and Greg would still be working together. And – more bonuses – we’d all still be together for another couple of years, at least!”

   “That is an exciting possibility. You think it’s pretty certain?”

   “I guess as certain as it can be, until it’s actually officially decided. I think it’s going to happen. That would probably mean that my sister, Mandy, would start here next fall, and be with me. Maybe Nancy, Mandy and I could get one of the three person dorm rooms. That would be really fun!”

   After a little more talk, Greg and Vic adjourned to his car for a more private goodbye kiss. She went back inside, and he started the drive home.

 To The Writing It Down Homepage

Leave a Comment:


© Sanford Wilbur 2024