Never in my life had I seen so much green. Every inch of roadside was carpeted in lush grass, and yet it was un-watered by man. Never in my life had I seen growth in such joyous abandon. In southern California where I grew up, grass grew in lawns, painstakingly watered, yet burning to a dry brown in summer's drought. Roadsides were bare and dusty tan---never this lush, billowing green, swaying happily to and fro in every breeze.

In my youthful naivety I assumed all blue collar families lived as I and my friends did---in simple, linoleum-floored, unheated and un-insulated houses. Washing machines and water heaters belonged on the back porch. I can't say that I ever knew more than one or two families who owned their own homes. Yet life was not for want of beauty. My mother grew flowers outdoors year around. Succulents and cacti graced our porches. Golden Dahlias grew in magnificent boarders, and elegant vines bloomed on trellises.

I met Dave, who would become my husband, in the spring of 1969. He was in the Navy, and had come to visit relatives next door. He came back to visit me. We were married by the fall of that same year. He whisked me away on a jet to this lush, green land. He told me his parents had a whole extra set of furniture to give us in their basement. I thought only rich people had extra furniture and I couldn't imagine what a basement was. It sounded so magical---a room under the house. Here in southern California houses had cobweb-infested dirt crawl spaces where black widow spiders lived and stray cats sought shelter. I wondered what it looked like!! And when I found out his parents owned their house---well---I knew they must be rich!! They had wall to wall carpeting and they had some strange thing called a furnace that magically delivered warm air to every room in the house, though I couldn't imagine how in sam hill it did that.

Well, Dave didn't act like a rich snob, and I was thankful of that. In fact, money was of little concern. He told me his dad had a job secured for him once we got to Indiana. I would stay with his parents, and once we were married, we could rent an apartment. That, along with the gift of the furniture, would be enough. The apparent fact that his parents were "rich" was simply icing on the cake---not the reason I wanted to marry him.

Indiana---I had seen it on a map but had never thought about it beyond Notre Dame and the Indy 500. We flew to this strange new world called the Midwest and landed at O'Hare Airport in the stifling humidity common to the end of August. Los Angeles has a climate tempered by mild sea breezes and dried by nearby deserts. If the weather did happen to heat up, it was from the bone-dry Santa Anna winds that also brought brush fires to the faraway foothills. The only time it was humid was during the rainy season in winter, when mushrooms grew on my cold, damp bedroom wall. The house was warmed with an electric space heater, and later, with a gas wall heater, but the lack of insulation allowed little protection from long spells of damp chill.

As Dave tried to explain the meteorological reason for such sticky heat, we hurried to meet his parents. His dad drove us to Hammond on a freeway called an expressway. Why it was called that I didn't know. I only knew that freeways were bigger than highways and they didn't cost anything to drive on---that's why they were free-ways. But some of these expressways were free and some were toll roads and you had to pay. I never saw toll roads in L.A.

We arrived at his parent's house in Hammond just long enough for them to pack a few things for a trip to the cottage in Wisconsin!! Their very own cottage. I never knew people who owned a cottage. There was no end to the wonders in this new land. I had seen Wisconsin on maps, too. For some reason I expected it to look rugged, with rock-strewn cliffs and miles of pine trees. I was a little disappointed to find southern Wisconsin different---with lush valleys and waterways everywhere, but I soon grew to love it. There were pines, too, and though planted by man, I still loved them.

After a magical week of learning to fish in a boat (I had never fished, and only once been in a boat), we returned to Hammond. I spent a whirlwind month pretending to help make wedding plans---of which I knew nothing, so I let Dave and his parents plan it all. It was a simple October 4th wedding performed by a Justice of the Peace.

I was told it was the best wedding reception ever. I was too scared to notice. I was surrounded by people I didn't know, and having few social skills, I had little or no idea how to relate to people I'd never met. Dave was surrounded by dear friends who were welcoming him back from four years in the Navy. So I went to the bathroom and stayed there, nervously combing my hair and lamenting over the pain from my too-tight shoes. Suddenly a lady burst in to tell me to come out at once. I had to dance with Dave---on the dance floor---in front of everyone---just us!!! Terror struck my heart, but I forced my pinched toes to follow the lady to my fate. Somehow I stumbled through the blur of the reception and then we left. My in-laws and their friends were still partying when we got back from our honeymoon three days later. To my relief, no one remembered that I was nervous---only that it was one heck of a party.

Michigan in October was another miracle of creation. Dave drove to Saugatuck where relatives were staying. We would visit briefly and honeymoon in this picture perfect town on Lake Michigan's eastern shore. Dave and I strolled down cobble stone streets littered with the most beautiful golden autumn leaves. Our drive up was equally awesome, as each grove of trees was intensely ablaze with various reds, oranges and golds. I never saw autumn colors before. I glued my face to the window like a child, as I was like a child, seeing such overwhelming wonders for the very first time.

After that we settled into married life. I wasn't so sure his parents were really rich. The mysterious basement scarred me. It was damp and had spider webs in it, though it did house that fascinating object called a furnace. The furniture had a mildew smell. And Dave's dad was a machinist. I wasn't really disappointed, though, as I had already experienced a life-time of new things. And I was married---in our own apartment.

Married life suited me. It was all I ever wanted, and nothing I had ever prepared for. Everything was new to me---writing a check, paying bills, planning and cooking meals, cleaning house---I was inept at everything.

The first snowfall brought a welcome respite from adulthood. I was a child again. I had never seen snow before. I marveled in its coldness, its fluffiness, and in its perfect crystals. I made a snowball, and marveled that it held together. I made several and placed them in the freezer. When Dave came home from work, I was sitting on the kitchen sink wearing my coat and gloves, with the window open. "What are you doing?!" He asked. "Catching snowflakes!" I answered. I showed him how I could capture the flakes howling in through the window on my gloves so that I could examine them. He asked that I close the window. I did, then excitedly showed him my snow balls. He was unable to share in my enthusiasm, having grown up with copious amounts of snow.

In December, when I was newly pregnant and devouring tuna fish at every opportunity, Dave took me out for a late night walk into the most beautiful winter wonderland. The snow sparkled in the crisp night air bathed in blue-white moonlight. Everywhere the snow delicately alighted in crystallized fluffs, as perfectly formed flakes gathered in airy groups to dress the landscape in icy lace. "Snow flowers, I'm going to show you snow flowers." Dave told me. We walked out into the cold, still night to a patch of dried weed stems. Upon each former flower stem, caught in the dried flower bracts, were fluffy balls of snow---snow flowers. It was the most wondrous and romantic walk I ever took.

When I look back I can see that we are all immeasurably rich here---with friends and family and two beautiful daughters, a house of our own with wall-to-wall carpeting and a furnace, with green roadsides and autumn leaves and snow flowers. None of us are wealthy, but we always have enough.

by Candy T.