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Snugli moments come back on the way to the altar

When she was tiny, I would walk around the neighborhood with her marsupialed against my chest in a blue corduroy sling called a Snugli. I could feel the warmth of her little body next to mine. I'd look down into the pocket of corduroy and see her...

When she was tiny, I would walk around the neighborhood with her

marsupialed against my chest in a blue corduroy sling called a Snugli. I could feel the warmth of her little body next to mine.

I'd look down into the pocket of corduroy and see her wisps of dark hair and her smooth skin. Most of the time, she would be sleeping. But sometimes when I'd look down, she would be looking up at me with her big brown eyes. The sensation I felt was a zing that went straight to my heart.

I will be taking her for a walk again Saturday afternoon, down an aisle at a church, delivering her to her fiancé waiting at the altar. I won't be alone, though. Her mother will be on her other arm. This will be a partnership, as it has been for the past 25 years.

Because she was our first child, we were learning on the fly. We thought we were going to drive around Lake Superior with her when she was 1. She came to despise the car seat. By Munising, Mich., we could see we were beaten. We turned around and drove home.

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When she was in grade school and I took her to the grocery store, she insisted she was a crossing guard, like the ones she had seen at school. I remember standing in produce while she held out an imaginary flag, protecting me from invisible cars. When she raised the flag, I was free to buy bananas.

In high school, she ran cross-country. I asked her, after she graduated, what she had gained from running. One of the things she said was, "When I needed to talk about something, I always had a group of people I could talk to."

She ran cross-country in college, too. The women's and men's teams often trained together on the same trails. She must have gained something important from that, too, because one of the guys on the men's team will be waiting for her at the end of the aisle on Saturday.

His name is Jeff, and we've dragged him along on trips to the canoe country a couple of times now, something that wasn't part of his family history. The first trip was particularly nasty, with hordes of mosquitoes and some killer portages.

At one point, someone came across Jeff on his back along a wet and rocky portage, where he had fallen with the food pack. Reportedly, he looked up and said, "I'd rather be at work."

You've got to admire honesty in a guy.

So, Jeff will be waiting there at the end of the aisle Saturday, and the three of us will be headed his way. I don't know about my wife, but I'll be cool. Yep. No problem.

But at some point near the front of the church, she will turn and look up at us with those same brown eyes that looked up at me from the Snugli.

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At that point, all bets are off.

SAM COOK is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or scook@duluthnews.com . Follow him on Twitter at "samcookoutdoors."

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