Someone asked me when do I write my column?
Well, sometimes I start far from my desk and computer. Yesterday I was walking the dog down our farm lane and the idea for this column came to me.
It all began because I remembered Valentine's Day is just around the corner. That day isn't celebrated here, not unless I cook something special. Bob isn't into giving flowers.
I'm not saying my husband doesn't give me gifts. He does, but they are, well, different. I have a story I tell about him when I speak to groups about saving family stories.
Back when we were dating, over 40 years ago, I expected romance from my boyfriend. I thought life would be like in the movies and books.
When I was 21 I started dating Bob, who was 28 and set in his ways - he never watched those kinds of movies or read romance books, so he didn't have a clue what his young, starry-eyed girlfriend anticipated.
I soon found out what to expect from Bob as gifts.
One day I came home from work to find a surprise from Bob waiting for me. Stacked next to my horse barn was a load of hay. Unlike other young women who got roses, I got hay. It was what I needed after all and Bob was (and is) very practical when it comes to gifts.
On rare occasions, when we were first married, Bob tried to buy me something romantic. There were a lot of failures, like the time he helped our young children buy me a Christmas gift, a dustpan.
I remember wondering what he was thinking. He said, "It's what they wanted to buy and it had flowers painted on it." I said, "But you were there to guide them. You could have let them get the dustpan and then something that isn't connected to housework."
There was one other memorable gift - memorable because they were/are so rare.
When we were setting up our first home I started a salt and pepper collection. At that time I could get a cute set for a quarter at a rummage sale - they made good knickknacks.
Bob bought me a bluebird set from Goebel (Hummel). Of course, I still have it and a lot of less expensive salt and pepper shakers, too.
Anyway, that's why I decided to write about Bob and his gift giving today when I was taking the dog for a walk.
The day before when we walked it was snowing. I had to watch where I stepped because the fresh snow covered patches of ice. I carry my cell phone in case I fall so I can call Bob to come to the rescue, but I'd rather not fall in the first place so I stepped gingerly through the tricky spots.
After the snow stopped Bob got out early to plow our driveway, pushing snow into piles. He uses a tractor without a cab, so I worry that he's getting too cold.
To our surprise, the weather warmed to 32 degrees, so it didn't feel so bad. In fact, it was kind of nice and Bob continued plowing. He drove down the lane to clear a path for me to walk. That's the gift he gave me, practical and sweet.
Bob's gift-giving practices even led me to the title of my first novel, Never Bring Her Roses. The story has nothing to do with horses or the gift of hay, but that's where I got the idea for the title.
I've long since given up the idea of Bob becoming like one of the heroes in a romance novel. I love him the way he is and actually appreciate his practical gifts. I mean, what would I have done with a bouquet of flowers as I walked down the lane.
Having a cleared path made my walk so much nicer and safer. And when Valentine's Day does roll around our celebration might consist of a trip to Dairy Queen for lunch, and that's pretty good in my book, even if I have to suggest it.
By the way, on Feb. 16, I will be joining my friend Colleen Sutherland at Sissy's, 205 N. Main St., Seymour from 2-4 p.m. for a book signing. Colleen will have copies of her new romance Yesterday's Secrets, Tomorrow's Promises and I'll have Never Bring Her Roses, plus Words in My Pocket Books 1 and 2. Hope to see you there.
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net; http://www.facebook.com/susan.manzke.