Our summer interns have gone for the season; back to their respective schools or onto the next phase of their lives. Sometimes they will visit, giving us updates about what has been going on after their summer at Winterthur and other times they might return for other reasons, like a marriage proposal. Such is the case with this story.
Nathan Smith was an intern with us in 2014 and came back to visit several times, either for organized tours or just to check up on the garden—and garden staff. This past fall and winter, Nathan and I did a lot of back and forth e-mail planning for an idea that he had; to have a commemorative tree planted so that he could then propose to his longtime girlfriend, Heather, under that tree on her birthday. (Guess he was pretty confident that she would say yes). We checked out several locations throughout the garden and the trees that were allocated for the spots. After some consideration and return visits, Nathan decided on the burr oak, Quercus macrocarpa, just below the Bristol Summerhouse on Sycamore Hill. This tree is a replacement for a white oak that shaded this area and I think it was the tree’s location plus the thought of a sturdy, long-lived oak that made for a romantic tribute to his love for his girlfriend; no short-lived tree for him!
More e-mails (with several staff) and visits ensued to take care of the myriad of details to pull off this secret birthday-proposal present: what to write on the plant label, exact location of the tree placement, planning for the actual day itself with a homemade picnic basket and blanket which had to be handed off and on site for the surprise. Oh, and did I mention that they were running a little late on the day of? Nathan had to keep his cool and send us messages on the sly throughout the process. Needless to say the day went well; a beautiful, sunny April day with the end result being, “Yes”.
Nathan sent along the pictures from the day and when I asked about the birch box that held the engagement ring, Nathan had this this to say, “The story behind the box is that I really wanted to make something special that involved nature and went with the theme of the proposal, so that it wasn’t just the usual ring box. I just cut a piece of birch from Joann’s Fabrics and drilled the notches in the top and bottom to create a space for the ring, and then I put a hinge between the two pieces. The scroll on the stick is a poem I wrote for her which goes into the hole in front of the ring and becomes a peg to hold the top down. Then I put felt in each notch and moss in the bottom notch for the ring cushion.”
Nathan and Heather chose a wedding day this upcoming year that is 2 days before their 10th anniversary together. Congratulations Heather and Nathan, may your love for one another–just like the oak tree– grow stronger each and every year.