We had originally planned to tie the knot on the Isle of Eigg in late May — and we’re still going there for our honeymoon — but then we realized how much easier it would be to do it in Pennsylvania, using its nearly unique self-uniting marriage provision, in the course of Rachel’s already planned visit coinciding with a reunion of my mother’s family. We didn’t invite too many people to our simple ceremony in the woods because we couldn’t be sure that the local county clerk would accept all of Rachel’s documentation… and also because we wanted to do it on top of the ridge above my parents’ old farm, which isn’t terribly accessible to the elderly or out-of-shape. My cousin Heidi was thoughtful enough to provide a cake for us at the reunion the following afternoon. And of course we’re planning the main party for June in London. Getting married on a mountaintop, celebrating it in a swamp… yin and yang, y’all.
So here’s the video:
Rachel’s knitting prowess is much in evidence, not only with the anatomically correct heart in the box, but also the shawl and cardigan, the latter finished and blocked with mere hours to spare. I’m hoping she’ll have the time to add her own blog post about that. I blogged at my literary site Via Negativa about our use of poetry, and we’ve also open-sourced our wedding vows. As for the video, let me repeat what I wrote on Via Negativa: I used mobile phone video footage by Rachel (via tripod) and my cousin Heidi Suydam, with additional photographs by Heidi and her daughter Morgan. I couldn’t resist including some snippets from Aaron Copland’s ballet about a newly married couple in the wilds of western Pennsylvania, Appalachian Spring. Credit is also due to Joseph Brackett, composer of the Shaker song “Simple Gifts” that Copland drew upon in the most famous portion of the suite. Since many people unfortunately know this tune only in its bastardized form (as the faux-Celtic “Lord of the Dance”), I want to quote the original lyrics:
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.
Amen to that.
A porcupine did indeed follow us part-way up the ridge to the ceremony, as the video suggests (with footage of the same animal in the same place two days previous), and when we returned to the spot later, it was clear why: s/he was feeding on one of the trees in the grove where we tied the knot. I’ve always felt a special kinship with these prickly, buck-toothed, tree-hugging troglodytes, so I was pleased to have one put in an appearance at such a pivotal life event.