The first born of the second generation has married. My oldest niece and her new husband met in Florence during a gap year. Despite complications– different schools different countries; it is no surprise to anyone who knows either of them, let alone both of them, that everything got sorted out. Family and friends on two widely separated continents are very pleased with the match.
The accountant and I were thrilled by the cool gray weather; the low fog that never lifted was entirely welcome to New Yorkers. Although, I am not a foolishly optimistic person, I was utterly confident reassuring my sister, the mother of the bride, when I ran into her buying a case of peaches at the local farmer’s market that the sun would shine and the fog would lift on the day my niece was married in her family’s backyard to the first man she loved.
A picture of California casual perfection, which as everyone knows especially those who have any familiarity with the movie business, takes a great deal of effort and money to achieve. In this case some money, heroic efforts and love. “It’s sort of an Etsy wedding” one of the cousins helpfully explained to a still clueless older guest. I jumped in explaining that Etsy was an on-line store specializing in the sort of products that back in New York are called artisanal. Funny how internet commerce forced understandable useful words like handmade and homemade to retool with new-er usages of fancier words. Perhaps, without these new adjectives in front of hand raised pigs and home smoked bacon the peaches wrapped in and grilled over an open fire might not have seemed suitable celebratory fare. Not in this crowd, of course, where the mothers and the best friends spent the days before the wedding not at the hairdresser or the day spa but making porchetta purses and slicing peaches.
My older sister’s garden has never looked so good, and even the band’s late arrival had a happy outcome. Eric Lechner picked up his guitar beginning the wedding by singing The Beatles; “In My Life.” I, who so loathe the Mendelssohn that I ran down the aisle to a march by Prokofiev, was nearly reduced to tears as my niece and nephew-in –law exited the Chuppah. The recessional Wedding March sounded beautiful and hopeful once again played on the 1930’s Dobro resonator freshly shined with a hint of punk rock surf beat. Kinda the opposite of original instruments. The bride, her sisters and attendants would grace any staging of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Indeed, one of the photographers captures tableaux where the young women look like Balanchine fairy dancers – very pretty very slim, long tresses pinned into tight buns woven through with flowers—all they’re missing is the physical gracefulness of trained ballerinas. But, that isn’t obvious in the photos.
The bluegrass band finally arrived. White people dancing exuberantly is a wedding cliché. Yet, the pleasure of watching happiness made plain remains a palpable delight. It radiated from the dancers so powerfully nearly pure as the sunlight, just maybe wafting all the way down the hills to the bay. The music was unlike the typical catering hall wedding where Motown follows the inevitable father daughter dance to “Sunrise, Sunset” as surely an overdressed person will be puking in the toilet stall next to you. A blue grass band made up of Hollywood session players is bound to sound better than a cover band. Pretty much like wild Copper River salmon gravlaxed by someone who has known the bride since before ubiquitous aquaculture beats poached salmon with cucumber gills.
It is always my goal to reach the bar quickly. I’m generally successful even when handicapped by high heels. And, of course, the accountant knows what to do. I looked over for him as I climbed the hill where the bar was set up thinking if this were a Nora Ephron movie about this perfect joyous day the hill would have been have been made gentler, my stepmother would have been shushed during the ceremony or perhaps a great joke would have been made if I had understood my little sister’s frantic gesticulation.
Wendy sat with our stepmother as did I with our mother and her new walking sticks. Wendy teaches pre-school, always modeling correct behavior so she didn’t clap her small hands over our stepmother’s mouth during the brief ceremony. In all fairness I should say that our stepmother did modulate from her outside voice to her inside voice during the brief outdoor service.
I concentrated on moving up the hill, conscious that I did not want to be the prat-falling aunt. My husband was talking on his cell phone a few feet behind me. I frowned, he was still talking when I reached small clearing in a grove of Eucalyptus trees where a bar had been created for the wedding. It was manned by two strapping and handsome young students. Likely, boyfriends of the lovely co-ed servers. Everyone at the wedding was related to someone, if not the bride, a sister, a cousin, a friend, if not as far back as preschool school at least high school.
“Red or White?” asked the handsome young man with a familiar smile.
Phil caught up talking fast looking worried still holding his phone in his hand.
“My brother’s been in a bicycle accident.”
“Both.” I said. The young bartender poured, and poured again.
“Now give him the same. Plus a large glass of fizzy water. Thank you.”
“Who are all these for?” the accountant asked as we gingerly made our way down the hill to the nearest table.
“Someone will want them.” I said “What do you mean your brother was in a bike accident?”
“It’s bad,” he said.
“Who says so?” I ask, sipping from the glass of white burgundy. Clearly Kermit Lynch had been consulted—the wine was both delicious and unfamiliar.
“My brother. My nephew, the trauma surgeon.”
“Your brother is talking?”
“Yes, after he called 911. He called Jason to discuss if he should be airlifted straight to Jefferson hospital rather than to his own hospital which is closer. He asked him to call me.”
I handed my husband the glass filled with San Pellegrino water and started on the red wine. It had a slight chill and more than a bit of Cabernet Franc. A little steel revealed in the upper palate kept it from a mere fragrant fruit bomb. I went back to the white, turning my full attention back to the worried brother.
“Drink this water. Your brother going to be OK. Different, to be sure. But OK.”
“Should I risk the wine?” The diabetic accountant asked, ” I sure could use a drink.”
I smiled and took his hand leading him around towards the dog door. I snagged two bottles of Champagne: one pink and one white along the way.
“Give these to Kim.” I instructed Phil as we entered the busy kitchen through the back door. I went into the pantry where my sister keeps the scotch and poured a large measure for my husband.
“Oh, you dear, dear man,” Kim Shiffer said in her Louisiana accent, a voice that naturally brings a smile to men face’s even on those rare occasions when she isn’t also proffering an outstretched hand with a tasty morsel “You remembered us! Which one shall I drink?”
I handed her a glass of the pink champagne and a glass of the blanc de blanc. It was a day for prettier and better.
It was a day to marvel at conjunction.