Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What a Good Onchiota Wedding!

                                     Rainbow Lake
Dear George,

I’m just back from Jessica and Sean’s wedding.  What a perfect occasion!  The ceremony was at Yemassee Lodge, Faith’s family home in Onchiota, NY, about 15 miles north of Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks.  Jessica and Chris had visited there for many years with their mom and Peter.  I was looking forward to a brother-sister rendevous with Vicki and to seeing J and K and my granddaughter V.  I flew into Burlington on Thursday, then drove a hundred miles, first south to the bridge across Lake Champlain, then north to Saranac Lake.  The trip was stunning – winding roads, thickly forested mountains, the lake shoreline, and occasional resort villages.

When I came back downstairs after checking into the Hotel Saranac, I heard a voice at the front desk saying that she needed a taxi to get to a wedding.  It turned out it was my sister-in-law, Gayle, who had traveled from New Jersey to Plattsburgh by train with her girlfriend Pat.  They were having trouble finding a local taxi to go to Yemassee Lodge, and so I’d come along at just the right time.

The desk clerk had given us instructions to Onciota, but they were skimpy.  After 10 minutes, we came to a road sign which said “Onchiota” to the right.  Gayle said that we should turn there, but I was certain that we should find and take a different road to Onchiota.  I drove until the highway came to a dead end.  An ancient fisherwoman was walking along the road, and I asked her for directions, but she was vague and uncertain.  Finally we called Faith, and she came and rescued us.  As it turned out, Gayle had been totally correct, and it was only my male stubbornness that led us astray.

Jessica and Chris gave us a big greeting.  Abra and Michael were there too, as were Jennifer and Win.  Jennifer was the matron of honor for her cousin.  I chatted with Abra about the travails of her Ph.D. work at Princeton, and she was enthused about her dissertation.  She and Michael will spend two months in Santa Cruz with Vicki, then move to Philly.  They plan to get married in the spring.  Jennifer was her usual sociable and fun self, as was Win.  They were excited about meeting baby V.

We didn’t stay real late.  In the morning I ran into Gayle and Pat again, and we had breakfast at the Blue Moon Café.  J, K, and V had arrived in Burlington at midnight the night before, as had Vicki, and they spent the night there and drove to Saranac Lake together in the morning.  J had had a lousy start to the trip.  A Thrifty rental car employee had switched people’s suitcases, and J’s luggage had gone off to Montreal, while he wound up with somebody else’s bag.  He’d gotten up at 4:30 a.m. to deal with Thrifty and hadn’t had much sleep.  He’d been trying to work out a suitcase exchange at the Canadian border by telephone with three different Asian people, none of whom spoke much English.  On top of that, a New Orleans friend called to say that their electricity at home was off for unknown reasons.  Katja and I only get to see our granddaughter once in a while, and baby V was looking wonderful.  She’s ten months old now, and, though I’d seen her in April, she’s developed a lot since then.  She’s so socially responsive -- her smiles warm one’s heart. 

Vicki, J, and I had lunch at the Meet & Eat Grill.  The Meet & Eat was a takeout place, but they did have picnic tables in an outdoor two-story walkup area, adjacent to a miniature golf course that has seen better days.  J was on the verge of exhaustion by the time his food arrived, but his mussel soup brought him back to life.  We stopped by a men’s store to see if he could find a shirt for the wedding, but it was too pricey.  J told Vicki that, as a thrift shopper, he’d never spent more than $8 for a shirt.  I was surprised he’d spent that much.

We took a shuttle bus from the hotel for the 5:30 wedding.  The ceremony was on the beach of Rainbow Lake, down the steep forested hill from the Lodge.  It’s hard to imagine a more majestic setting.  It was a sunny, 72-degree day, with the bright blue waters of the lake, evergreen forests on all sides, and Adirondack mountains in the background.  Chris escorted Jessica down through the woods, and she looked lovely in a creamy white, lace-topped, floor-length wedding gown.  The bridesmaids wore black, the men black tuxedos. 

The ceremony was very touching.  Sean dabbed at his forehead with a handkerchief and was choked up as he spoke his vows.  Jessica was equally emotional, though she did laugh a couple of times.  Of course, something always goes awry.  In this case, when it was time for Jessica to put the ring on Sean’s finger, the bridesmaid had tied the ring too tightly to her bouquet and had to struggle to untie it.  Then it turned out that she didn’t even have Sean’s ring – instead the best man did.  It all got sorted out, and, before you knew it, the couple kissed and were newlyweds.  There was a cocktail hour and then dinner under a huge tent.  I was happy to be able to make some remarks at the dinner, and I concentrated on what my brother Peter might have felt and said if he had been there.  Jessica told me how much she appreciated my bringing her dad in, and Abra said it made her cry.  The party continued indoors and outdoors after dinner.  Vicki and Win sat in a group near the outdoor fireplace, and Vicki challenged Win to arm wrestle.  It was more dramatic than usual because they were positioned right next to a blazing fire.  If Win were successful, Vicki’s arm would wind up in the flames.  They struggled mightily, but finally Vicki forced Win’s arm down.  An onlooker claimed that Win was faking, but he denied it.  Somebody asked Win if his mother-in-law was dating, and he said he had no idea.  Abra asked her mom if she were dating.  Vicki said no, and I told Abra that we don’t ask such questions in our family.  Lots of other silly stuff happened and people partied into the night – Jessica and Sean were up till 3:30 or 4:00.

Saturday was the post-wedding, hang around and party day at the Lodge.  I’m congenitally incapable of more than 30 minutes of mingling, so a full day was overwhelming.  I coped by falling asleep on the couch, then interacting with baby V, who was fascinated with my baseball cap and liked to pull it off my head and put it on her own.  In the afternoon the rain stopped, and Vicki and I went on a canoe trip, checking out the elegant summer cottages and boathouses along the shore and traveling the full length of Rainbow Lake.  In the evening Jessica played a video they’d taken at the party the night before in which the guests gave tips for a happy marriage.  One of our family members – I won’t say who – gave this advice to the newly married couple: “Hit like an All-Star; Party like a Rock Star; F**k like a Porn Star.”  People laughed because it was so out of character.  I talked Vicki into leaving at 10 p.m., definitely earlier than her late night inclinations.

Vicki and I were driving to the Burlington airport on Sunday morning, and we agreed to call one another at 7 a.m. to make sure that we were up and ready.  Vicki did call, but my traveling alarm clock said 5:00.  I told Vicki, but she said my clock was wrong.  My watch said 5:00, and she said my watch was wrong too.  When I told her that the hotel alarm clock also said 5:00, she finally sensed that she might have made a mistake.  Though we were tired, the trip to Burlington was a lot of fun.  We stopped at a flea market, then at an ice cream shop, and spent time catching up.  I boarded the plane to Newark at 1 p.m., and I was happy to see Katja at the gate in Cincinnati.




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