Having spent the weeks before oHaving spent the weeks before our daughter's wedding weeding the asparagus and spraying dandelions, my husband and I gave scarcely a thought to a gift for the newlyweds.

Having spent the weeks before oHaving spent the weeks before our daughter's wedding weeding the asparagus and spraying dandelions, my husband and I gave scarcely a thought to a gift for the newlyweds.

Not that they were expecting anything. The wedding was in our yard, so each clump of crabgrass and foxtail I uprooted was a gift in its way, right? Of course, a tidy asparagus bed was more thrilling for me than for my daughter and son-in-law, both of whom thought the yard was fine as it was, but surely freshly weeded asparagus was worth something.

Still, we wanted to give them a small gift, a token of our love and confidence. I considered and rejected several possibilities, and then I remembered the garden gnome.

The gnome was sitting on the front porch of the house my daughter and her husband wound up renting last fall. The previous tenants were still in residence at the time, and it was difficult to tell what would stay and what would go.

"I hope the gnome stays with the house," my daughter said to me. I swear she did.

The gnome didn't stay with the house, so I bought them one, a friendly little guy wearing a stocking cap and holding a "Welcome" sign. It didn't cost much and yes, it was on sale, but the point is, it was a gnome, which cross my heart my daughter said she wanted.

The night before the wedding, my son-in-law's mother gave the bridal couple a gift. It was a full-size quilt, a replica of a quilt my daughter and son-in-law had seen the year before in Barcelona, where they became engaged. The quilt was composed of vivid colored squares, and they were crazy about it. They took pictures. They considered spending every cent they had to buy it, but ultimately, regretfully, they walked away.

Now here it was in their arms, richly colored, plumply thick and indistinguishable from the quilt they had seen. A spectacular gift.

I was irresistibly reminded of a poem, "The Lanyard," by Billy Collins, a poem that was, in fact, part of the wedding ceremony.

" I sat at a workbench at a camp

by a deep Adirondack lake

learning how to braid long thin plastic strips

into a lanyard, a gift for my mother," Collins wrote.

It's a fine poem. If you don't know it, you should look it up.

"She gave me life and milk from her breasts,

and I gave her a lanyard ," it says.

And a little later,

"Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,

strong legs, bones and teeth,

and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,

and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp."

Put the words "quilt" and "garden gnome" in the right places, and you have my story.

"Here's the quilt you saw in Barcelona, and here are the squares and the beautiful colors.

And here is the garden gnome I found on sale, I said."

My daughter does not remember wanting a gnome, it won't surprise you to hear, although she gamely placed our gift on a living room shelf.

On the evening of the wedding, the sun set.

This is nothing new, but at least two dozen guests live in urban areas where sunsets are obscured by buildings.

Entranced, they carried white wedding chairs into the yard, lined them up just behind the asparagus footlights, and watched the sun go down on the big screen.

"I've never seen so much sky," several of them exclaimed.

As for me, I watched the asparagus. It looked great.

Margo Bartlett is a ThisWeek staff writer: E-mail mbartlett@thisweeknews.com

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