Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Yard of Tea


There’s nothing like young love. Treehouse guests Kristin and Justin proved that when they came for an overnight two summers ago on their way from Buffalo to Maine. As they plotted their route from Vermont on circuitous two-lane roads, Justin said, “We’ll get there.” Kristin replied, “I believe in us.”

Her belief paid off. Shortly after their second visit to the treehouse, Justin asked Kristin to marry him. She said yes, of course, because she’s a clever girl. And sweet. And creative. And good looking. They married in a barn in Buffalo with a stuffed fox watching over the nuptials and lots of fun and love showered on them by good friends. Stan, who taught them graphic design at Buffalo State University, officiated the ceremony, and Justin and Kristin thanked him by giving Stan and his wife Diane a couple nights at Fern Forest Treehouse. Stan and Diane were thrilled. So were we.


Meeting Stan and Diane was like watching PBS and the travel channel and reading National Geographic all at the same time. Stan was raised in Afghanistan by missionary parents. His dad was an eye doctor and his mom was a tornado of energy. He’ll pour you a yard of tea the Afghanny way, by holding the teapot a yard above the cup and pouring a stream of tea without spilling a drop. And, with few resources growing up, he figured out how to have a good time with the pile of rubble his father bought from an Afghan man—mostly broken bicycle parts. Stan and his brother sorted through the confusion and constructed not one but three bikes, which they rode around the community.


Stan went to high school in Kabul. After graduation, his parents shipped him to Kansas to live with his grandparents and attend college. The grandparents knew an admissions officer, who allowed Stan to go through the admitted applications. He picked out a pretty brunette and said, “She’s going to be my wife.” Or something along those lines.


The first week of classes, Stan tracked Diane down and wouldn’t leave her alone until she agreed to have coffee with him. The rest is history. But very interesting history. After they married, Stan moved his new bride to Pakistan to teach and save souls. From Pakistan they migrated to far north Quebec and then to Nova Scotia. Somewhere along the line they managed to have two children. I was afraid to ask for the details of giving birth in remote areas with none of the comforts of modern ob-gyn care. Suffice it to say, Diane is a tough cookie.


She lets Stan take the lead most of the time, but we managed to discover that Diane was born and raised in Kansas and comes from Mennonite stock. Mennonites, just so you know, are similar to the Quakers in their commitment to peace and nonviolence and to the Amish and Anabaptists in lifestyle. They believe in living simply and in valuing community. They also are accomplished farmers and brought wheat to the U.S. from Russia sewn in the seams of their clothing. Think of the Mennonites when you have your morning toast.


Diane has the self-composure of her ancestors, the tough-it-out grit that makes one believe she can handle just about any situation and she’ll do it quietly and efficiently. We found Stan and Diane to be a pious and humble couple, but they were up for a challenging hike to the top of Mt. Abe. In the snow. With the boulders slippery with ice and the wind whipping at the top. They came back rosy-cheeked and invigorated for a second night high in the trees.


I think Diane and Stan had a good time at Fern Forest. But, then, they’re the kind of folks who have a good time no matter where they are. If all they have is a pile of rubble, even better. Stan would probably find a way to turn the mess into a motorcycle to ride into the sunset with his bride gripping his waist behind him. They haven’t wasted a minute of this life, and I have a feeling there’s a lot more ground for them to cover. I hope their travels bring them back our way before too long. We welcome another dose of their optimism and ebullient spirits.


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