By Mary Lynn Bruny

Last weekend my husband and I were picking apples from a tree in our yard. Well, he was picking apples and I was holding the ladder. A few days earlier a friend texted me a picture of her 22-year-old daughter on an apple picking date.

“You know,” I said to my husband, “when we were in our 20s, we would have thought picking apples together was a romantic date. Same with raking leaves.”

To which he replied, “You know, when we were in our 20s, we would have thought picking up garbage together was a romantic date.” Touché, mi amor.

I suppose when a couple has been together for decades, just enjoying doing things together like gardening is a pretty good sign.

Once when we were planting bushes in the front yard our mailman said to us: “Couples who garden together, stay together.”

Hmmm. I don’t know about that. But I do know couples that garden together usually have sore muscles together. Maybe this binds them closer? I’m not sure if Bengay™ is exactly an aphrodisiac, but it definitely does invigorate the senses and get the blood flowing.

Side note on apple picking: It is good we do this together so neither of us is alone on a tall ladder. This is a marital rule I instituted after an acquaintance fell off a high ladder while cleaning gutters. (As the parent of two sons I try – pretty unsuccessfully – to avoid trips to emergency rooms.)

Despite my best intentions, I can steady the ladder but if my husband actually fell I couldn’t break his fall all that much. He’s not a little person. But I could immediately call 911, and that’s significant. And it would take away the suspicious looks from the nurses and doctors at the hospital. You can imagine how many times folks fall off ladders and these medical personnel are thinking: “And where was their partner? Are they clueless, inconsiderate or is there a hefty life insurance policy involved?”

Anyway, this apple picking got me thinking: When you have been with someone a long time, what constitutes a date? I tend to be more pragmatic than romantic. I think just having fun while spending time together fits the bill, especially during a pandemic. Simple is fine.

Thus shopping together at Costco and having a pizza slice afterward in the food court qualifies as a nice little date to me. I really enjoy our occasional forays to Costco. Not sure what this says about me, but there you have it.

I remember reading once that to spice up your relationship, you and your partner should go to a bar, act like strangers and pick each other up. This seems so dumb to me. I wouldn’t have done this in my 20s; why in the world would I do this in my 50s? More plausible is pretending not to know each other and bumping into one another at Costco. “Our eyes met above the organic potato chips with jalapeno seasoning, and we knew we had found our saucy soul mate.”

But back to gardening together: Perhaps the date part occurs more during the post-work relaxation. After outdoor labor, I love nothing more than having some snacks and beverages together in our backyard. This time of year that means curling up with blankets around our fire pit. As long as these blankets don’t catch fire and we end up in the ER, this sounds like a pretty good date to me – especially if those jalapeno-flavored potato chips are involved.

By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn writes about local real estate and home-related topics. Contact her at [email protected].