I always wanted to get married at the farm. From the very first summer after we bought it. When the wildflowers and the mountain laurels burst out that first spring, and the ferns came out of nowhere with their fragile, curled fiddleheads pushing through the still-cold ground and towering toward the sky. This is the place, I thought, where I want to join another person’s life. I will gather an armful of wildflowers as I walk to meet my future husband. The orange of lilies, the creamy white of Queen Anne’s lace, the vibrant gold of black-eyed Susans, the lavender of wild Phlox. Maybe I will weave a crown of flowers to wear around my head as well.
I will to stand at the “crossroads” of the farm for the ceremony — the patch of sloping lawn between the front and the side of the house, the small patch of grass that links the orchard, the meadow, and the path that leads to the copse of old pines. And beyond the pines, the wide lawn that leads to the creek. The ramshackle springhouse stands at the lowest point of this patch, built over the natural spring that feeds our pond. Ungodly amounts of intestine-like tubes of tadpole eggs appear each spring, another astounding harbinger of life. Of rebirth.
The crossroads-lawn is a mere few steps from the house, so I can be barefoot. I will feel the grass underneath my feet, the blades that I will tamp down with the soles of my feet; but they will stand again. They will feel the sun’s rays, and they will grow. I want to be in touch with the ground, with the earth, when I marry. I want to be tied to the world, to connect with the nature of the things – with my feet touching the grass that is rooted in the dirt that is the top layer of the earth that is part of a universe.
And now here it is, it’s today, it’s today. I am getting married. It’s my wedding day. I will marry Eddie, my Eddie.
I look at myself one final time in the little mirror on the kitchen wall. I grab the orange and white and purple and yellow bouquet of flowers that Eddie picked first thing this morning. He surprised me, tickling me with the tallest flowers while I still slept, then handing me a cup of coffee in my favorite crazy, chipped mug. I ran to the kitchen and put the wildflowers in an old mason jar filled with water and ice to keep them fresh.
I look down at my bare toes. This is so much like I always pictured it. How did I get this lucky? How did I find a man to love, to love me back. A man who not only fell in love with me, but with my childhood wish to be married at my family’s farm? Who got a tear in his eye when I told it to him, who kissed my hand and said: how could I not want to honor this dream of yours?
Eddie, my Eddie. I step across the threshold between the kitchen and the porch, and I get my first glimpse of you. Our families are scattered about the lawn. I hear low voices, laughter. Your brother clears his throat and coughs into his hand. My brother pats him on the back.
As if you can sense my presence, you turn your head. You see me.
I will step off the porch and I will feel the grass underneath my feet and I will say the words and you will say the words and our eyes will stay locked to one another’s and we will be a woman and a man who are united. With our families and the universe watching, we will be united.
I take a deep breath. One last look the scene before I am in the middle of it. Woo picks up his violin and starts to play. It’s time.
I swear I see movement at the edge of the orchard. Moving away from the gathering. Like someone was here and decided to leave, but who in the world would do that? No one; that’s who. I must be more of an anxious bride than I thought. The old scaredy-cat me rearing her ugly little head. Wait, is that fringe I’m seeing? Long fringe, like from a jacket, fluttering every which way? I know that fringe.
But Woo is playing. And I am imaging things. It’s time.
Each of these excerpts from my novel The Rocky Orchard is meant to be a stand-alone snippet that piques your interest. Like the majority of my writing, the past and present intermingle freely; memory and “reality” can be indistinguishable. It’s not meant to be a jigsaw puzzle to figure out, but rather, an aperitif to whet your appetite for more.
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