Chuck, Greg, and Tim gathered in the office Monday morning, to discuss the week's work. Vic came over to join them, and they discussed the wedding weekend.

   "After everybody left Saturday evening," Chuck began,  "It dawned on Mandy, your mother, and me just how long we'd been on a wedding planning 'high,' and just how tired we suddenly were. We all went to bed pretty early, and got up pretty late on Sunday. I think the only definite thing they have planned for today is returning the tuxes. We didn't get that done on time, Saturday."

   Greg filled them in on his parents' visit, and their trip out through the refuge, with a stop to visit at the diner. "Ross McHenry was there, and we talked  for a bit. He said to pass on his good wishes to you on the move. His alfalfa looks pretty good, and he said they had a reasonable first haying. He doubted they'd have enough growth for a second cut, though."

   "Did you get any nice wedding presents?" Tim asked.  "I saw there was a pretty good pile of them."

   "We haven't really had time to look at them yet," replied Vic. "We should do that."

   "You never know. Some unknown rich relative may have put a thousand dollar bill in one of those envelopes."

   "That would probably be a good incentive for opening things," Greg mused.

   "While we're sharing, I have a little news," Tim said. "Rae and I got engaged Saturday night. We went out to eat, and then on the way home, I proposed. She said yes." He looked at Greg, but didn't mention motels, or other advice.

   They all expressed surprise (even Greg), and good feelings. "I suppose you're not talking wedding date, yet?" Chuck asked.

   "No, we're both just getting used to the idea of being engaged. I think we're going to take some time before we start thinking of specific timing.

   "I'm excited. I didn't imagine that I would be this excited!"

   "It's quite a step," Chuck acknowledged. "Cause for excitement."

   "On a less exciting, but important - to me - topic. When you leave, Chuck, I am going to be without office help. I'm your office help, but when you leave, I'll be you, and I can't be both you and me at the same time. See what I'm saying?"

   "I don't know how I see it, considering how you said it.  But, yes, you are saying you need to hire a clerk-typist."

   "Correct. So, a question to Vic - would you like a job here, a few hours a week, until you go off to school? A question to Chuck - if she says yes, would it be considered nepotism if I hired her?"

   "In the interest of speeding up the conversation, I say yes," replied Vic.

  Chuck didn't take much longer. "In most situations, having father, son-in-law, and daughter all working on a small refuge might look like we were establishing our own kingdom. However, in reality, hiring Vic would be what our personnel office calls a 'sole source' situation. With Mrs. Holstrom, we had someone who only lived a couple of miles away, and was willing to come in for a few hours a week, if I let her pick the times she came in. I'm pretty confident we're not going to find that kind of a deal, again.

   "Why don't you give Portland a call, tell somebody in Personnel what we're dealing with, and see what they suggest? It would be nice if they have a deal like Tim's WAE status, where Vic would always be on the roster, but only on the payroll when she actually works. If they have something like that, Vic, you could work until you went off to school, then come back in the spring, without all the rehiring paperwork. So find out what you can, Greg. I'm sure Mac will approve anything we come up with.

   "Now, before we break up, I'll be going to Idaho Falls tomorrow, for one last visit before John leaves for Montana. Greg, I assume you'll be monitoring the water supply closely. Other than that, everybody keep alert for range fires. Thankfully, we got through the wedding without anybody needing to rush off to the fire line, but it is still definitely 'fire season.' I heard on the news this morning that there's a new fire between Pocatello and American Falls, and a couple northwest of us in the Shoshone district. The weather forecasts are still saying we shouldn't have any lightning here in the Valley, but as we've said before... Anyway, be vigilant. I'll be back on Thursday."

   When Tim left the office, Vic walked with him over to the shop. They talked more about him and Rae. "I hope Bobby got some good photos of you two together. I think you'll both really be glad to have those in the future."

   "Thanks for having him do that, Vic. I think I was right, not to have Rae officially in the wedding party, but I'm so glad she was there with me, and so much a part of things. I wasn't absolutely sure I was going to propose until Friday."

   "Well, I'm glad you decided - and I'm sure she is, too!"

   "On another subject, your folks' going away party. Sis says she'll be happy to do some artwork for them. She asked me to ask you if there are any photos taken at the refuge, showing the buildings,  or Chuck, Alice, you and Mandy - all together, preferably, but any combination of the four of you."

   "I'm sure there are some. I'll find them, if they're not already packed away, for the move."

   "She says they don't have to be great photos - just snapshots, are fine. She just wants to get some ideas from them. If you can't get any, she has something else in mind that she can do.

   "Are we still talking about that Saturday - what is it, August 6?"

   "Yep, I was able to reserve the community hall for that afternoon. Greg and I really need to get our heads together, to do some actual planning."

   "Well, you know I'm ready to help, and I think Rae will be, too."


      They had dinner with Chuck that evening, and had a nice family time, together. Vic and Chuck played checkers (sparing Greg that agony), and Vic won three out of six matches (highlighting Greg's ineptness at the game). When they'd had enough of that, Vic suggested to Greg that they take a little walk.

   "There's something I wanted to talk about, and it'll be best if we're alone."

   He looked at her quizzically. "Okay, if you want."

  "Daddy, we'll be back in a bit," Vic called, as they left the house. Then, rather than going for a walk, she directed them to Greg's abode. She settled in the big chair. He sat in a kitchen chair in front of her.

   "I was just thinking..." Vic began.

   "Oh, no. Not that."

   "Be nice, Greg. I was thinking - or maybe wondering - now that we're married, is it all over for us?"

   "All  over?"

   "Well, I've heard it said, and read it - sometimes as a joke, but not always - that all the excitement and anticipation of getting married kind of ends when you actually get married."

   He tried to judge how serious she was. "I'd been thinking a little differently. You know, the radio, and the telephone, and the movies that we know may just be passing fancies..."

   "That's very nicely put," she interrupted him. "It's almost like song lyrics. I had what is kind of a similar thought. The Rockies may tumble, Gibraltar may crumble. They're only made of  clay."

   "Vic, you know it isn't nice to steal from the same source that I'm using. Nevertheless, I was getting to the next line. Whatever is going on now - whatever comes and goes - our love is here to stay. Definitely, here to stay!"

   "Oh, I know that. That's been a 'given' since the day we met. We'll always love each other sincerely and deeply. That's not what I was referring to."

   "You are thinking in terms of romance?"


   "More specifically," he interrupted her. "You are thinking about sex."

   "Since you put it so delicately... Yes, that is what I was referring to. They say that romance is all about conquest, and once the conquest is made, you don't need it anymore. And sex - well, it's the ultimate conquest and satisfaction, but then... Well, after marriage, sex with the same partner is just repetition, isn't it?"

   He seemed to be thinking. "Well, take romance. You conquested me pretty early in our relationship. Whatever romance I offered you wasn't really necessary. Maybe it was even superfluous. Maybe it was wasted effort. But it was fun, wasn't it?

   "As for sex after marriage not being as good, we've actually considered ourselves married for some time. Why do I remember some rather excellent sexual encounters and performances during that time?"

   "Well, we weren't legally married in the eyes of the Law. Maybe that makes a difference."

   "Okay, we'll consider that. Sex on our first actual legal night was perhaps a little sedate, but that may have been because my parents were in the next room, and we were both so exhausted we couldn't keep our eyes open. In its own way, it was still pretty nice, wasn't it?"

   "Yes, it was."

   "And last night - our first legal night that we were alone and well rested - that might not have been the most memorable performance of all time, but it was certainly well up in the 'Top Ten,' wasn't it?"

   "Yes, but that may well have been our final big night - our 'good bye' performance, so to speak."

   Greg stood up, and moved  the kitchen chair off to the side. "I feel that you don't believe what you're saying, and that you have some ulterior motive for this conversation. Just let me say that I am ready to prove that we still have some very sexy times ahead of us."

   She let her eyes roam down his body. 'Yes, I can see that."

   "Are you ready to participate in a little experiment now to confirm my belief?"

   "Yes, I believe I could be convinced to join in your experiment."

   "There is a nice bed right near us. Are you prepared to make use of that bed in the furtherance of fact finding?"

   "I am."

   He held out his hands to her. "Then, let's be about it."

   Quite a while later, Vic asked, "Do you think Daddy will be worried about us?"

   "Very doubtful."

   "You don't think he'll wonder if we've been devoured by wolves?"


   "Should we go back over to the other house, just to show him that we're okay?"

   "This is a very nice bed, and since we've already mussed it up, I think we should stay here."

   "But I didn't bring a toothbrush."

   "I have a spare one, unused."

   "I don't have any pajamas to wear."

   "I'll keep my eyes closed."

   "Okay, then. Turn out the light."


  "This is a rather small bed, isn't it?" Vic noted, next morning. "I mean, compared to mine." 

   "It is, but it didn't seem to present too many problems in the night. And speaking of 'in the night, I don't think the pre-marital excitement is completely gone. Do you?"

   "No, but it's still early days. We'll need to keep alert, and regularly 'test the waters,' so to speak."

   "That sounds like good advice for us to follow. Actually, I was thinking of a story that Thomas Hardy told in 'Far from the Madding Crowd.' It addresses the very thing we were talking about. Do you want to hear it?"

   "Certainly. Anything that might help..."

   "Well, Hardy tells a story about a man who married a woman that he loved very much, and who was quite comely..."


   "Pretty, nice to look at. What I'm getting at - well, what Hardy was getting at - is that the man really had no reason to be thinking about other women, but he was. He had a real wandering eye, and apparently wandering feet to go with it. But they solved the problem."


  "Well, as you noted last night, the danger with getting married is that the pursuit is over. The prize is won, and there's no reason for more romance. This couple brought romance and pursuit back into the marriage by pretending that they weren't married. The woman took off her wedding ring, the man called her by her maiden name, and the wooing was back on."

   "And that worked?"

  "Well, that's what was implied in the story."

  "Interesting. But what if it was the woman who developed the wandering eye? The man could take off his wedding ring, but he couldn't change his name. Say I was the woman. What other enticement could you offer to suggest that the chase was still on?"

   "I hadn't thought of that, since the man is always the villain in those type of stories. Let me think." He did. "How about if I wore a pair of red boxer shorts? Red is supposed to be erotically stimulating."

   She paused for a moment. "Wait, I'm picturing it in my mind. If I was to remove your shorts, taking a long time to do it - I mean a really, really long, slow time - I bet I wouldn't be thinking about anything or anyone else while I was doing it."

   "I know I wouldn't!"

   She laughed. "Okay, enough fantasy. I have a feeling we're not really going to need that kind of a cure, no matter what I suggested last night. But if we did, I'm sure our combined imaginations would bring us back to reality pretty quickly."


    It was still early, but it was a workday. They dressed and went over to the main residence, where Chuck was just finishing up his coffee and pancake breakfast.

   "The griddle's still hot, if you want pancakes," he greeted them. "I guess you realize that you missed your 11 o'clock curfew last night."

   "Yeah, about that," Greg began. "We let the time get away from us, and we didn't realize how dark it had gotten. Vic was concerned that there could be a wolf pack waiting just outside our door. After discussing it, we decided that the safest thing to do was just wait it out in my house. We would have called to let you know we were okay, but it was late and we didn't want to wake you."

   "That all sounds very plausible, and probably you did the right thing. You can't be too careful if there are wolves in the neighborhood."

   "That's what we thought," Vic agreed.

   "Well, to the business at hand. As you know, I'm leaving in a bit to go up to Idaho Falls. I'll probably be back tomorrow night, but might stay over another day if there's still business to transact. Your mom and Mandy are planning to come out here tomorrow, to do some serious packing. I think you know that Mandy quit  her job for the time being. She hopes they'll take her back after we get the move settled, and let her work until it's time to go to school."

   "We'll be able to help with a lot of the packing," Vic said.


   The next two weeks went quickly, with much packing activity, plus getting ready for the going- away party. The weather remained dry, but the temperatures cooled to around 80, and the thunderstorms continued to stay in the mountains. The fire threat diminished, at least for the time being - but there was a lot of summer left to come.

   Vic managed to get some older photos of the family in refuge settings, and Greg took some new ones when all the Andersons were around for the packing. With the recent photos of Vic banding ducks and Mandy at the mist-net - and some miscellaneous shots of flying ducks and shorebirds - Tim's sister Amy was able to create an interesting collage of the Andersons' time at Magic Valley. It was a hit at the party.

   Chuck was completely unsuspecting that Saturday. Vic had finally decided to tell her mother ahead of time, to be sure they didn't make other plans. It was still a lot of fun for Alice, to be in on the surprise. Word-of-mouth had worked well, and there was a good selection of friends and neighbors from the area, as well as some work contacts from Fish and Game, BLM, and elsewhere. Armed with notes from Vic, the Mayor had given a good summary of the Andersons' time in the area, and others had made shorter tributes. There were also a number of letters from people who hadn't been able to come. There were a number of cakes, as well as coffee, tea, and the last of the sparkling cider from the wedding. It was all over in about two hours, but everyone seemed to agree that it was a great two hours.


   The second week in August was a little cooler than the first, with temperatures sometimes not reaching 80 degrees. There were showers over the mountains, but again there were none in Magic Valley, itself, and the drought continued. There had been no recent fires reported in the Shoshone or Minidoka districts - the area around the refuge - but the agencies were quick to remind that "fire season" in Idaho still had two months to go. Range fires had already blackened 187,000 acres, twelve times the amount of land burned in 1965. There had been 256 individual fires in 1966, compared to 122 in 1965. The fire that had started west of Idaho Falls the week before the wedding had eventually charred 125,000 acres. A fire currently burning in forest land north of Boise had already affected 10,000 acres. There were 700 men battling it.

   In other happenings, larvae of the Mexican bean beetle - not reported in Idaho previously, but devastating bean crops elsewhere in the West - had been found in two fields in Minidoka County. The crops were burned, and the area sprayed with insecticide.

   A "gas war" had begun in Twin Falls, with prices of regular gas dropping about two cents to 29 cents per gallon, and ethyl to 34 cents. Nobody seemed to know the reason.

   The machinists' union still resisted settlement of their strike against five major U. S. airlines, even though Congress was trying to take action.

   The complaints of farmers around Rupert of hunters trespassing on private land had resulted in a decision that all farmers post their property with signs saying that hunting was allowed with written permission only. The State fish and game commission had promised to increase their patrols in the area.

  And former Vice-President Nixon, speaking in Japan, had predicted that the Viet Nam war could be ended in two more years, with "25 per cent more troops than are now scheduled to go to Viet Nam. 'Maximum force' can end the war quicker and with less casualties."


   At the refuge, it was moving week. In two trips with a U-Haul trailer, Chuck and Tim managed to move all of Chuck's and Alice's personal belongings to Idaho Falls. Greg and Vic moved Greg's belongings, the kitchen table and chairs, and the easy chair from Greg's house to the nearly-empty manager's house. Tim brought the promised couch from his parents, and a surprise gift (from the two sets of parents) of a brand-new washing machine. Tim helped Greg move the refrigerator from one house to the other, and the transition was complete.

   All of the Anderson-Cleveland clan gathered at the rental house Friday afternoon. They ate at the local pizza place. After, they visited and watched a little television, but all retired to bed early. Saturday morning, they ate breakfast at the diner, loaded Alice's and Chuck's bedding in their car, gave hugs all around, and sent them on their way. Greg put the rest of the bedding and a few personal belongings in their car, then searched the house for any forgotten items. They spent an hour or so on miscellaneous cleaning, pronounced it good, turned in the house key to the realtor, and the three returned to the refuge.

   All settled on the Johnson's couch. Vic looked around. "It's rather minimalist, isn't it? I guess it'll work, though."

   "I was thinking Spartan," said Greg. "Same idea. It does feel pretty empty in here."

   "You'll have lots of room to dance, if you want to," Mandy observed.

   They all laughed. "Well, if we can resist the temptation to just fall into bed and sleep for about 48 hours straight, what are the things we really need to get done," asked Greg.

"How about opening wedding presents?" Mandy suggested.

   "That's a good idea," Vic agreed. "Greg, I just tossed them all in a box in the bedroom."

   "I'll get it." He did. Mandy started a list of presents, and who they were from, so appropriate 'thank you' notes could be sent. There were a variety of household items, and small kitchen appliances. There were envelopes with $5 and $10 dollar bills in them, but no $1,000 from a long-lost relative.

   "Too bad," Vic observed, "But the rest is nice, and money is always helpful. Now, probably the

next most pressing thing for Mandy and me is getting all our college paperwork done, and sent off to school. We're not late, but time is marching on - especially for you, Mandy, since you're a first-timer. You got your job at the diner back. When do you start?"


   "Okay, assuming we get a good rest tonight, shall we try to get it all the school stuff done tomorrow? We'll have Monday, if we need it. Then, we can take you to town, get the papers mailed, leave you at Nancy's, and do a big shopping to fill up our nearly-empty refrigerator, again."

   "That sounds okay to me." She seemed a little hesitant.

   "Are you feeling okay about all this, Mandy?"

   "I guess. I mean, we've been living with Nancy's family on and off for a long time. It works fine. It just feels a little different this time. We really are all by ourselves now, aren't we?"

   Vic put her arm around her. "Yeah, we are. But you can call me any time, and you should come out here with us, any time you have two days off together. And I can come to town for the day, any time. It's only for a month, and then we'll be together at school. When everybody's settled, we can probably see Mom and Daddy regularly, too. They won't be that far away, and Greg will be coming and going all the time."

   "I know. I'll be all right. It just feels really different, right now."


   They followed through with their plan, and Monday night found Greg and Vic alone at the refuge. They sat on the couch. "So, this is our new life, together," Vic commented.

   "Yes, it is. How do you like it so far?"

   "I like the sound of it, a lot. What I actually see is that a lot of our time together is actually going to be time apart. Like last year, it's going to be a week or more between visits, just waiting for a chance to spend a night in a motel bed. And even that won't be the same. There won't be the titillation of a clandestine assignation. Just two old married people staying overnight in a motel."

   "Holy cow! Titillation. Clandestine. Assignation. All in one sentence. How did you manage that?"

   "Dictionary. I've been thinking about it for a while. I knew you'd be impressed."

   "I'm more than impressed. Not only are the words exciting, but the idea behind them is pretty good, too. You know, as we said on another recent occasion, I bet our combined imaginations can make an old married couple's night in a motel into a pretty sexy tryst.

   "Seriously - no, wait! I don't mean to imply that I'm not serious about the previous subject. I should have said, on another important subject, I really am looking forward to when we really will be together most of the time. Not me living my life, and you living yours, and meeting in the evening with 'hi, honey, how was your day?' We need to find something that we really can do as a team..." He paused, as if he had remembered something.

   "Greg, hello. Did I lose you?"

   He turned, and smiled at her. "No, I was just thinking of something I read, that I think says what I want to say. You remember I told you the story from 'Far from the Madding Crowd,' about how the married couple brought the premarital excitement back?"

   "How could I forget? Red boxer shorts..."

   "Right. Well, Hardy had another quote about marriage - the other part of marriage. Let me see if I can find it."

   He left the room for a few minutes, then came back with a book in his hand. "I just threw all my books in a box when we moved the over here. I wasn't sure I could lay my hands on this one.

   "So, bear in mind that it's an old book, it's British, and the author was writing in the wordy, flowery mode of the times. I still think it's understandable. Here goes.

   “The good fellowship—camaraderie—usually occurring through the similarity of pursuits is unfortunately seldom super-added to love between the sexes, because men and women associate, not in their labors, but in their pleasures merely. Where, however, happy circumstances permit its development, the compounded feeling proves itself to be the only love which is strong as death—that love which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown, besides which the passion usually called by the name is as evanescent as steam.”

   "Did you follow that?"

  "I think so. He's saying - well, implying - that, in marriage, men and women often don't get beyond the 'pleasures' stage. I don't think he means just sex and romance, exactly, but there's kind of the 'me man, you woman' situation. Their basic interests are different, and aren't easily overcome.

   "Don't give that up, but if you can add - let me see the book a minute - yeah, the camaraderie of similar pursuits - in other words, working together - then you develop a love that is unbreakable.

   "Have you heard that old saying, 'kissing don't last, cooking do?' Nothing against kissing, mind you, just adding some foundation."

   "That is good, Vic! I think you said it better than Harvey."

   "And that's what you want, the camaraderie of similar pursuits?"

   "I do, indeed."

   "Good. Me, too."



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