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It all started when in November 2010 when I was working at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. My supervisor had informed me we were going to build a fence to keep beavers out of our tree plantation and bring along the guy who helped build the Friends website. He went onto tell me a little more about this guy, his estimated age, his residence, his job…all the while I was thinking, “Hmmm, well at least he isn’t old and decrepit” (a very important skill to have when doing laborious field work). And, “That’s the guy who didn’t put my website volunteer update up yet!” So we drove to the site and met him by his truck.
I know a lot of people have the “love at first sight” experience but for me it was more like “attention grabbed at first sight.” As soon as I saw him step out of his truck and walk towards me, I knew that this day would be more than just getting muddy and battling beavers. We worked side-by-side for the next 4 hours as I tried to hold back my brute strength qualities while trying to sneak glances at him as often as possible (sunglasses worked marvelous for this) and initiate some conversation. I mean come on, if I’m going to start a crush on someone I have to know they aren’t a serial killer right? Outdoor/hiking man. Check. Music/guitar skills. Check. Family guy. Check. Pronunciation of last name. Check. I continued my interrogation that night on the interwebs: facebook and google searching for this Shawn Hooghkirk only to find an outdated personal website and a blocked facebook page. So I took matters into my own hands (probably out of desperation) and added him on facebook. To my delight, he accepted request and this started the glorious journey from our first birding date to when we started dating three months later and eventually his proposal at that same place we first met, next to the beaver fence.
I’m excited to have him by my side through thick and thin for the rest of my life. He is the bravest man I’ve even known, jumping into this adventure with me.
It was November, and the last thing on my mind was about to happen.
I had been volunteering at the Ridgefield Refuge for just over a year when Lynne Cornelius (Habitat Restoration Coordinator) asked if I could help him with a fencing project he was going to start. So I said yes, and a week later I was ready to help and test out my new rain gear.
For some reason that morning I was there earlier than Lynne, and was just getting out of my truck when I saw him pulling in the parking lot. I noticed someone else with him, and thought it was a little weird since I assumed it was going to be him and I, and that’s when the door opened. All I remember was feeling the blast of wind and trumpets, then it all made sense. With trumpets fully ringing, the woman of my dreams was stepping (although I could have sworn she was floating) out of the truck.
At least that’s how I remember first seeing Jill.
So we met and I found out she had been working at the Refuge with Lynne doing restoration—pretty cool. She was quiet at first, and it took a little while for her to warm up, but she eventually did. The next thing you know, we started to find out we had a lot of the same interests. She played piano, I play guitar; she liked the outdoors, I like the outdoors; she had a sense of humor, I try to have a sense of humor; and on top of that, she was very nice to look at.
So that first day, we had a great time getting to know each other and really hit it off. I also got some great news: this project was going to take a while to complete, so I’d have an excuse to see more of Jill, and I did. We then started our “fencing days,” seeing each other for the first part of every Tuesday for the next few months.
And the rest they say, is history.
Jill is an amazing woman and I’m beyond excited to spend the rest of my life with her—after all, she's my best friend.
Our registries are a list of things to give you an idea of gifts we like. Feel free to wander from the list and add your own creativity!
for an afternoon of
love & laughter,
singing & swinging,
fun, food & fellowship.