Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Marsh Week

We just completed the 36th Annual Marsh Week – an extended celebration of Ms Sandra Marsh’s birthday. It didn’t take me long after we met back in 1974 to realize how much attention she has on November 18. Clearly, a single event celebration would be insufficient. So I created Marsh Week, a series of special activities to mark the occasion. The details were a secret. She would only be told what time we’d begin and how I thought she should dress.

We’ve had many wonderful Marsh Weeks. (She returned the favor by setting up Miller Fest around my birthday in February.) When we were in New York we’d often include visits to the theater or ballet. In San Francisco we’ve focused on food, wine and special friends. As an added bonus I’ll do chores that we normally share. And if, for example, we are going to watch something on TV, instead of agreeing on what it’s going to be, the person being honored gets to choose.

In what is a counterintuitive result, I’ve found I feel a sense of freedom when I just let her have her way. I don’t need to expend any energy by being part of the decision-making process. When I asked her if she too felt this sense of freedom she said it isn’t quite the experience she has when the role is reversed. Oh, well . . .

Leading up to her birthday this year Sandra told me that this was a particularly meaningful one. It was #70. For her this was a really big deal. Well, thought I, I need to rise to the occasion. I’d begin by lengthening Marsh Week to ten days – a week bookended by two weekends. There would be three major events – 1) a dinner I’d prepare here at the house for Sandra and four special friends, 2) a dinner at Manresa, a restaurant she loves but I resist going to because it is in Los Gatos, about 60 miles away, and 3) a dinner again here at home where the guests would be her mother and siblings.

Day 1 and Day 10 would again revolve around dinner. She loves having steak and great wine from our cellar, usually a cab followed by French cheese and sauterne. I bar-b-q the steak. So that’s what we did to begin and end the festivities. On Day 1 we drank a ’95 Colgin cab and finished with a ’75 Y’Quem. It doesn’t get any better than that. On Day 10 we had a ‘95 Araujo cab and an ‘83 Rayne Vigneau. Wonderful.

Sandra was generous in letting me know how much she enjoyed and appreciated Marsh Week 36. I loved it as much as she did.


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