I spent a few weeks last summer on a river boat cruise. It was the romantic Danube tour but I was with my husband’s sister and six of her closest friends. There was nothing in their way to prevent turning the cruise into an episode of The Loveboat, but being the only non-single one of the bunch, that was not an option.
The night we were docked in Vienna the seven friends chose to go to a classical concert in town, but I was tired after having gone on a morning tour of Vienna in the pouring rain, then a raft trip after lunch. I was also coming down with a cold, although I was convinced it was allergies at the time so I opted out of the music and sat in the lingboat’s lounge drinking a cocktail and reading on my Kindle.
When I looked up from my book I noticed a tiny woman with snow-white hair sitting across from me, drinking her own cocktail. I smiled and she smiled and before long I knew everything there was to know about Katherine Ashe aka Katherine Ann Wynne. She worked for a company that closed down or something so decided to write. She published books on an obscure Englishman called Simon de Montfort who apparently founded Parliament.
She must have sensed that I was not going to read the books about the founder of Parliament so she said she self-published a book about Fairies. This might or might not have been after I mentioned my daughter was a big believer in the wee folk.
After an hour or so her husband, Peter, joined us. When he learned that my husband worked for NIH he said that my husband probably knew someone he went to school with. Sure enough, Dean knew Peter’s classmate, Tony Fauchi.
I had such a delightful time speaking with this fascinating couple that I asked them if they would mind posing with Rupert. They said they’d be delighted to and anyone who would not want to pose with Rupert was not worth knowing.
Their love for each other was apparent in the way they spoke to each other, the way they looked at each other, the way they spoke of their past life in New York City and their current life in rural Pennsylvania. Throughout the rest of the tour I saw them quite often and while we didn’t have any more long talks, I could still see their love for each other, even at a distance.
They seemed like such a happy, intelligent couple that I think about them often. I still need to read The Fairy Garden though.
14 thoughts on “Old Lovers”
How lovely! So often, you see couples and wonder why they’re together. But these two told you the opposite, if not in so many words.
I also love the relationships you make on holidays like this, but I’m always a little sad when they don’t turn into anything else.
I did try to contact Katherine but I didn’t hear back. Once I read The Fairy Garden I will try again.
Several disjointed comments:
– I am having a difficult time pairing Vienna and rafting.
– I love that you went on the romantic Danube tour with 7 single women.
– I have never sat in the lounge of a lingboat (Should that be “longboat”? Autocorrect certainly thinks so.) drinking cocktails, but after reading this I have added it to my bucket list.
– I love the photo, and the fact that this means Rupert must be a treasured travel companion (so in fact, I guess you went on the romantic Danube tour with someone of the male persuasion after all).
– I love the fact that you would never read a book on Simon de Montfort but might read one about fairies. Some day.
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The rafting was about 45 minutes away, in a nature preserve in the Danube wetlands. Not a rafting the rapids, but a slow paddle looking for beavers.
Yes indeed. It should be longboat.
Yes, Rupert and some of his chums often travel with me.
Yep. History bores me but fairies do not.
Beavers and Vienna–even at a distance of 45 minutes–seems like an even weirder pairing than rafting and Vienna. I guess I foolishly though North America has a monopoly on beavers. (Oh, except now that I’m writing this I’m remembering some bizarre story about a Russian man who was killed by a beaver. Which sounds like a fairy tale.)
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Once upon a time, a long, long time ago—the 1980s—I worked at the Institute of Medicine in the office that published their first reports on AIDS. That’s when I became very familiar with who Tony Fauci is.
This is a beautiful piece!
Tony is Dean’s second level boss.
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Still pondering if I would survive a cruise with seven single women. Carefully selected ones, maybe. Where in Pennsylvania does this couple come from?
Three of these single women were my age or older. Two were 10 years younger and one was 20 years younger. They were single for a variety of reasons, choice, divorce or death of their spouses. No one was out to find a man or anything. It was all very tame. Although the youngest did turn a few locals’ heads.
The couple live in Northeastern PA. Starrucca, if my Internet sleuthing is correct.
Wow–Starrucca is in my county, but it’s way up north. Rather remote! Still, I’ll ask a couple of people I think might know them.
I rescued a dog named Donna once. But I changed it to Holly. She didn’t look like a Donna.
There is much to unpack here and I am just as confused by rafting in Austria, which seems entirely like a New World creation to me. And beavers.
My parents have met and enjoyed the company of many different sorts on their QE crossings of the Atlantic. I’m more of a chat by the shared sink at a campsite kind of girl…although often those meetups are ones I wouldn’t want to continue past our stay.
And Rupert makes me smile. I had a teddy bear that I named Pius, for St. Pius V where I taught, and my class took him around and posed for photos everywhere, and then we sent him on world adventures to Finland, Morocco, Quebec…
The rafting was more like a leisurely glide along the Danube wetlands. And yes, there are beavers in Europe! They are bigger than the ones in North America.
This was a Viking river cruise, the kind that is advertised on public TV. I doubt I will do another, but I am glad I did this one. My main concern before I went was that there would be throngs of rude Americans everywhere we went. It was not too bad, but it was very crowded.
I was so happy to have gone on the raft trip, to get away from the crowds of tourists. There were only two other people on the trip besides the tour guide and park ranger.
I wonder if she lives in rural Northeast PA. If so, I’m certain we must have mutual friends. Or at least acquaintances. And speaking of friends, I’m impressed that your sister-in-law has six close ones.
The couple live in Northeastern PA. Starrucca, if my Internet sleuthing is correct. (Peter and Katherine Wynne)
My sister-in-law has many close friends. She’s only really close to three of the women who went on the tour (besides me, but I am family). The other three were family or friends of one of her friends.
Also, of the 8 of us, 3 were named Donna (or Dona) in my case!