The Carpenter and I had trouble planning our 18th wedding anniversary. Lack of a budget, lack of time, and I’ll state it honestly, lack of desire all played a part. We both subscribe to the belief that an anniversary isn’t the marker of success, but every day you don’t staple one another’s underwear to their steering wheel after repeated requests to clean their side of the bedroom go ignored – that is a good day.

Our schedules have been all over the map of late. And when we are home together, we just want to stay here.

Going out requires effort. And maybe we don’t talk much because we’ve about had it with the social interactions of the day, so come nightfall, a comfortable silence is, well, comfortable. Don’t panic, this isn’t a bad sign. It’s simply two people who are such good friends we know that our romance is in the creation and delivery of a cup of tea after dinner, with no words spoken.

It should come as no surprise that the final planning for our anniversary fell entirely on me. Shocking, I know. So, I abused my power with some self-indulgence; my plan, my rules. The destination had to feed my soul and hopefully remind the Carpenter he has one. The route had to take backroads, not highways, and the music had to be good, not top 40, with a budget that was reasonable but not cheap. There was one destination that could do all that: The McMichael Art Gallery in Kleinburg.

We decided to take the teenagers because what device-absorbed teen doesn’t want to go on an educational field trip with their embarrassing parents to an art gallery an hour from home, only to find out there really was really nothing there but art? Right? Man, I tell ya, when I book in for a romantic adventure, I really go all out.

It struck me as we entered the gallery that it had been 24 years since the Carpenter and I first visited the McMichael together. I was researching the impact of the Group of Seven on Canadian identity, but the Carpenter was the one being tested. I knew if he didn’t appreciate their art, we didn’t have a future. I remember it still, the moment he came around a corner of the gallery and discovered a giant painting by Lawren Harris. He stopped dead in his tracks in awe of this painting. I knew then and there I would marry this man. Let the record show, I got that one right.

It’s almost like how last Sunday, I walked around the corner of the gallery and came upon a full-sized black and white photograph of Tom Tomson and gasped, possibly swooned, maybe stared a little too long and felt my heart skip. The man, the legend, the nature-loving artist whose death on Canoe Lake is wrapped in a mystery of romance, scandal and intrigue still unsolved is perhaps the most dashing of men. And me, a smitten kitten.

The Carpenter, witnessing my reaction was completely unfazed. He whispered, “Are you going to be alright or do you need a minute?” All these years and he still understands me.

Tom Tomson may be the legend, but the Carpenter is the real deal.