Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How to Have a Celtic Farm Wedding

First, plan ahead with the farm and growing season in mind.  Arrange a visit from a wise flower-gardening relative early in the year.  She'll arrive with fifty dahlia tubers in your--and your Sweetheart's--favourite range of colours.  Together, you can plant them in the greenhouse in March, where each emerging green shoot will hint at the sweet occasion to come.

Start raising a pig for the feast.  Secure a farmhand who will spend hours romping with the piglets, scratching their backs and rubbing their bellies as they lay in the Spring and Summer sun.  Soak the pigs' daily rations of grain and veggies with leftover milk from a local dairy farm.  Watch them grow and thrive.  When a friend announces he'll be opening a restaurant soon with 100% locally-sourced foods, offer him a chance to supervise the pig roast.  Get some more farmhands to dig/build the pig-roasting pit.  Invite them to stay for the wedding.  Be delighted when they agree.

Send out invitations that you've designed yourself with some public-domain medieval woodcuts of musicians and beehives. Travel with your coloured pencils so you can colour them in during long conservation district meetings and on slow, hot afternoons at the farmers' market.  Be inspired by the displays of produce and flowers set out by the other vendors.

Trade a couple of roasts and some sausage to a fellow market vendor in exchange for help designing your wedding garb.  Stop by her place after the market one day for a consultation, and emerge with hand-written directions and the entire dress cut out.  Be thankful for this wonderful alternative economy.

The mother of one of your farmhands comes to visit with a gift of Highland whisky.  After enjoying some together around a campfire, go down to the Honey Exchange and get some heather honey to go with it.  Hand these off to a friend who happens to be a wonderful baker and commission a "cranachan" wedding cake, flavoured like the traditional Scottish dessert.  The raspberries on your hillside--a gift from your plantsman godfather--will ripen just in time to decorate the top of the cake.

As the seasons unfurl, take time to walk the land.  Meditate on partnership--both human and cosmic.  Consider how, in your shared life, you and the land have shaped each other.  Choose the orchard as your wedding site, knowing that the site plan will need to accommodate the tender bark of young trees and the hesitant movement of elderly knees, as well as a nearby sow and a hive full of bees!

Plan a service with a local minister--the one who "gets it," the one who once gifted you with a manure fork enscribed with the emblem of the church you now serve.  Think about all the people who worked and prayed and lobbied and educated and legislated and voted so that, at long last, you could have the opportunity to take this step and solemnize your vows with full legal and religious recognition.  Struggle to believe it's really finally going to happen.  Struggle to trust that this blessing--and all the legal protections it brings--will actually come to you.

When kinfolk begin to arrive, enlist their help to mow, move the picnic table, and set up the tent on the neighbor's lawn for the reception.  Send some relatives to the "small box" five-and-dime store for last-minute decorations.  Send the siblings off to the church to borrow tables and chairs.

Kill the pig.  Do it yourself, quickly and calmly and thankfully, offering a prayer for the life and nourishment of that sweet small beast.  With the help of sure-footed strong friends and skilled farmhands, prepare the pig and gather wood for the fire.  Honour the creature; waste nothing.

Old Friends arrive (with bagpipes!) and whisk you away from the happy chaos for a night out and a big ol' plate of barbecue.  The next day, let the visiting bagpiper and the bagpiping-bride-to-be indulge in an epic tune-swap while you work on your dress.  When the other Old Friend offers to help with the hemming, let her.  She will sew so quickly and quietly that, before you know it, the hemming will be completed before the other volunteer hemmers even arrive!  Be thankful for Old Friends, for their grace and grace-notes, for their calm and camaraderie.

On the day of the wedding, breathe deeply.  The flowers have opened and your mother and aunt have arranged them all into a host of beautiful bouquets.  Your father and siblings have bedecked the neighbor's lawn with tents and tables for the potluck reception and created an avenue of tiki torches (lent by a friend) between there and the orchard.  Your sister, with her grand sense of design, has used old wooden pallets, logs and stones to create a sanctuary around the drooping boughs of an old apple tree, and it is now flanked with sap buckets full of late Summer flowers.  Chairs are in place, the pig is roasting, and guests are starting to arrive.  Hand out readings to friends: Psalm 148, (to be read by another farmer), Colossians 3:12-15, (to be read by a clergy friend), and an excerpt from Marge Piercy's poem, "The Homely War," (to be read by another dear friend who understands the depth and challenge of love).

Go upstairs, in the little woodshop you spent three years turning into your house.  Get dressed.  Your partner wears her new utilikilt (in brown Carharrt-style canvas, complete with hammer loop) with an Indian cotton shirt and brown velvet vest.  Her "something borrowed" is a pair of kilt hose from our friend Bruce, whose spirit lingers in the circle of love that surrounds us.  Put on the newly-finished and wonderfully-hemmed linen shift, the rusty silk overskirt and the borrowed plum-coloured medieval bodice. Add "something old:" a silk panel from your great grandmother's dress, and the petticoat she wore to her own wedding.  Have your sister tuck a tiny blue butterfly clip into your hair.

Friends have assembled in the orchard in the golden light of a September afternoon.  Kith and kin, neighbors and long travellers, farm hands and farm mentors, dancers and musicians, wise elders and wee bairns, chefs and bakers and clergyfolk and druids... there, among the trees, near the new sow's pen--and a respectful distance from the humming beehive--there is room for everyone.  This is the circle of love we celebrate: the people and other creatures who make our own love possible, the ones who lift us up and nourish us, the ones who affirm and celebrate the life we've made on this land and all the history and possibilities we share together.

The piper is tuning up. Other Old Friends have arrived with harp and fiddle.  (You don't know it yet, but their gift of music will be a song written just for this day, and everyone's hearts will bust wide open as they lift their voices, singing together a chorus of hope, freedom, kindness, love, and a Brand New Day.)  Take your Beloved's hand and proceed to the wooden arch her son carved and raised, with friends, at the top of the hillside, just above the blueberry bushes and the raspberry patch.  Begin the procession...and let Nature, in all her wild beauty and raucous good humour, take it from there:

(Thanks to our friend, Mudranger, for capturing the unplanned hilarity!)


Mama Pea said...

Omigosh! Could it have been any more perfect?! Blessings to you both and CONGRATULATIONS!

Sue2 said...

It was such a blessing to witness your love and to be a part of the celebration! Love you both.

Trailshome said...

What a marvelous highlight to your very special life. How nice to have that ceremony that so well fits the life you've chosen. Thank you for sharing it with us. Congratulations, and may you live happily forever after.

Susan said...

It sounds as if it was as all weddings should be - thoughtful, full of love and totally committed. Congratulations to you both and my hope and wishes for a lifetime (and beyond) of happiness together.

Crimson Rambler said...

LOVE, love, love, the story about the manure fork...