Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wedding Ring Epilogue

I met Andrew in the summer of 1998 when we were both trail guides at a camp in the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you the whole long story of our meeting, falling in love, and getting married, but the setting to that story is important to the one I’m about to tell, so a few details need to be shared.

Camp Menogyn is a solid five and a half hours from the Twin Cities, and 30 minutes inland from the north shore of Lake Superior - remote and beautiful. Reaching its shores requires the campers (and trail guides) to paddle a canoe across West Bearskin Lake. There are no roads into Camp Menogyn.

As guides, we spent our infrequent days off in the tiny town of Grand Marais, out on Lake Superior. It was here, on the rocky coastline of the big lake, at Artist’s Point, that Andrew proposed to me in 1999. Looking back from Artist’s Point, one sees the crest line of the Sawtooth Mountains which parallel the shore of the lake.

Our wedding rings were made by a jeweler in Grand Marais who based their design off the surrounding landscape. The edges echo the line of the Sawtooths, and in the center the rings were carved into a lakeshore reflecting the surrounding forest – a scene constant in the Boundary Waters. Perfect for two people in love with each other and the outdoors.

Our wedding guests paddled canoes to the shores of West Bearskin, where we said our vows at Camp Menogyn on the first snowfall of the year in the autumn of 2000.

Some people think married couples wear wedding rings to show our status, like a cab driver with a rooftop sign alit: “Unavailable.” For me, it’s a reminder and a connection. I look down at that ring and feel not just the love for my husband, but all of our history – beautiful and challenging alike – as well as the place where we fell in love and said our vows. I love that place.

So when I lost my ring this past February, I struggled to get over it. I told myself it was just a material object, but the loss still felt painful. I ignored Andrew’s every entreaty to replace it. I even scanned the trail at Miwok where I thought I’d dropped it. I was looking for my ring during a race!

The post I wrote about that loss received such lovely comments from you all. Thank you! In particular, I was thinking this summer about part of what Pam said: “I kept waiting for the Gotcha Moment when you find that ring. You may one day yet …”

I can’t say I agreed with her. The idea of having a bit of hope to still find the ring was tempting, but it seemed foolish. And still, her comment stuck with me.

So, have I given away the end of the story yet?

Early in July I was in a blissful post-race haze after Western States. Just beginning my summer vacation, it was likely the best part of my entire year. Friends would arrive that afternoon to celebrate the July fourth weekend, and I swept pine needles from the deck to prepare the yard for the impending celebrations.

You’ll never believe what I found in that mess of pine needles.

I have never squealed so loudly in such excited disbelief in my entire life. Not even when I was a teenage girl. By the time Andrew came running up the stairs to see what was wrong, tears of joy were already streaming down my face. Yup – cried when I lost it, cried when I found it. I’m kind of a crier.

And although I tried very hard to avoid dwelling on the potential symbolism of a lost wedding ring, I am quite happy to inject its recovery with all manner of meaning. Love endures. Don’t give up hope. Pick your own cliché – they’re all positive.

The best I can figure, it came off my finger while shoveling the deck (maybe while removing a glove?), but I simply didn’t notice its absence until I was 200 miles away, 24 hours later. And the craziest thing – it stayed on the deck for five months. Five months of excessive, ridiculous amounts of snow which were repeatedly shoveled off inches at a time. How it didn’t get scooped up in a shovel and tossed into the garden I have no idea.

Here’s the cliché I chose to sum up this experience: Life is crazy, and beautiful, and you never know what might happen. You just never know.


  1. Love the story! Love the pictures! And now you know the REAL reason why women wear diamonds - they are a helluva lot sparklier, and, hence, easier to find, than other stones! (I don't know if the ring you lost had a rock on it...)

    I will tell you the story someday of my lost AND FOUND stone ~ which broke free of its setting on a mechanical bull... another happy ending....


  2. Not to get too fu-fu here, but I think maybe (maybe!) that ring was waiting for you to be ready to find it. Wow! I can just imagine that moment when you pulled the pine needles away.....

  3. Gretchen, dear, this story is unbelievably soggy, I cried as I read it, and oh, my God, it deserves every cliche you can possibly come up with! I am a pretty extreme case like that, cerendipity and all, trust me, and it's real! And here's your prove! Lovely photos and story of your meeting too, I do want to hear more:)

  4. I love the both of you and miss you so much. Your deep connection to each other and the world around you in inspiring.

  5. Awesome luck and awesome writing, Gretchen. Yip!

  6. Gretchen this is sooo fantastic! Good, strong spirits must reside in your marriage and the symbol of it. Kismet, karma, hoogily-boogily - whatever it is it LIKES you two a lot! Please give a hug to your adorable Andrew from me :o)
    Aunt T

  7. You made me look down at my own ring and think about all the blessings it symbolizes. Its times like these that make me feel angels are always with us. So happy for you!

  8. No WAY! That is simply amazing, but I don't have to tell you that! Wow, wow, wow. I squealed outloud reading this! So happy you found it :)

  9. Oh, this was really sweet. I'm so glad I checked your blog today.

  10. So glad the story has a happy ending! :D

  11. Oh thank you for all the lovely comments, everyone! I'm glad the story had a happy ending as well, (Obviously!) and I SO appreciate the warmth and good feelings from you all.

    I do have to say that I'm not a huge believer in the whole "It was meant to be" thing. I kind of think the actual finding of the ring was just random luck, as so many things in life are. But that doesn't make the story itself any less beautiful or meaningful to me. Maybe that's why what I got out of this whole thing was "life is crazy."

    But I kind of enjoy the crazy aspects, your know?

  12. That's what I call a "happily everafter" story. Now, why did you wait three months to tell it?!

  13. Anne - I know. I'm kind of a slacker that way. :) I guess I was finally in a sentimental enough mood to tackle the topic.

  14. I'm coming in late with a comment, but I'm so glad I checked your blog today. What a heartwarming story to share. I can imagine your excitement, relief, and just outright euphoria.

  15. All good things come to those that wait!

  16. Your topic is very nice. The rings is famous to the wedding rings, so wedding very useful and good things in wedding planning.

  17. Menogyn has been on my mind lately, and on a little googling whim I found this sweet post! Your wedding was absolutely beautiful and perfect, and I'm so glad you found your ring! Miss you both!