Four years ago, Brian Thom, the Episcopal Bishop of Idaho, came up with a plan to ask Ardele Hanson to marry him. He wanted to recreate a special moment by kayaking up the Snake River to a lush, green island they had visited that summer.
In his pocket was an engagement gift, a heart-shaped necklace. The couple sat down in the StoryCorps booth in Boise to talk about that day.
“It was raining. Not a good kayaking day," said Hanson. "But for some reason, you were just bound and determined we had to go, without a paddle, without a life jacket, without the rack that we could put both boats on one car. I’m thinking, ah man, this guy is so distracted, something’s going on. So this is the weekend we’re gonna break up.
"He lives two hours away and I live here. His job is really important. I’ve worked at my job for 20 years and what are we gonna do? He’s forgotten so much stuff this weekend. He’s going to tell me this is the weekend we part our ways and go along.”
Thom picked up the story, “So we go down to Centennial Park, the launch, which is two miles below the island. We put in…”
“And then it really starts to rain,” interrupts Hanson, “but we’re already wet. We’re already in the boats. We may as well go give it a shot.”
“So we go up a mile,” said Thom, “the water was low, so we got out and portaged over the rocks.”
“Slippery, muddy lava rocks,” said Hanson.
“You walking in front, carrying both boats…” said Thom.
“Slipped in the mud, dropped the boats, fell down on my hands and knees and face,” said Hanson, “and I’m thinking I’m done. We need to turn around and go back, I’m not doing this anymore."
“We’ve come all this way. We’re almost there," continued Thom. "Let’s go see our island.”
“So we get up to the island, and it is black and gray and white and scoured clean of anything green in the entire world and covered with goose poop. But it doesn’t deter you. We are going to get out of the boats.
“We were sitting there and I’m thinking you know what?” said Thom. “You’re the only one who knows what’s in your pocket.”
“Oh. So it almost didn’t happen.”
“No. It was just the last moments, or the first moments, I think that’s a better way to say it,” said Thom. “Considering all that’s happened to both of us. I kind of went through the list. She’s adventurous and athletic and beautiful and sweet to people. I said, you could think about it some more, you could wait, but I said no. I said the adventure’s now. Grab this. So I pulled it [the heart necklace] out. It wasn’t a very deft move I’m sure, because you were expecting something else and I opened it up and asked you.”
“I just cried, I just cried,” said Hanson.
“We got a couple good pictures and there were people up on the canyon rim up at the park overlooking the falls and I got up and told them. I screamed at the top of my lungs 'SHE SAID YES!'”
“We both waved at that time,” said Hanson. “The next thing we were plying our boats back.”
“We paddled back down to our future,” said Thom.
“I love you.”
“I love you too, baby.”
Brian Thom and Ardele Hanson were married in January of 2010. They told their story at the mobile StoryCorps booth in Boise. StoryCorps is a national initiative to record and collect stories of everyday people. Excerpts were selected and produced by Boise State Public Radio.
Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio