An offering from Mellissa and Richard on their wedding day. Click on the photo for the whole set.
My cousin Mellissa got married on the mountain yesterday. This was a second marriage for both the bride and groom and in some ways, I think that gives people the license to do it however they wish. For Mellissa and Richard this meant getting married the way that is closest to home for them, in a Quero Apache Wedding Ritual, lead by our dear friend Maria (she's the little person in this shot). A large portion of my family spent the ceremony going, "HUH?" which was kinda fun for me. But most of them just stood in the moment and went with it, respecting that this was meaningful and personal and offering their words when asked. This is the second Quero Apache wedding ritual I've attended (although I have yet to upload the photos from the first) and I can honestly say that there is some of the most beautiful traditions I've even seen contained within. Some elements often included are a talking stick offering, where the attendees offer up their words of advice/encouragement/hope to the couple (I said, "May you always fight fair"); a gift from the couple to the attendees, in this case heart shaped stones; a pipe ceremony; a ring blessing; a blanket ceremony, where the couple enclose themselves in a blanket and spend a few moments under the blanket, which represents their first dwelling together; and the presentation of marriage sticks (not their name, just can't remember) that are created by the bride and groom. There's also the traditional cutting of the cake and the existence of silly punch.
The girls did really well, despite the fact that the missed naps. Anya caught a cat nap on my back before the ceremony started when I stole a friends carrier and strapped her to me for twenty minutes. Lily and her friend Marisa got bored a bit during the ceremony and briefly flirted with a career in forestry before giving it up to stand around gabbing with cousin Clarise. All the kids did really well and enjoyed playing hide and seek in the woods during the reception. At one point I pawned my very clingy Anya off on Mark and took a walk with my camera, capturing photos of Hawkhaven Lodge and the local wildflowers while enjoying the calls of the kids, the background of music from my cousin Mike and his guitar, and the ongoing murmur of chatter from the family and friends. It was delightful and an excellent reminder of how perfectly awesome my life really is.
We were heading back down the mountain by 7pm, with tired kids and tired parents (and only one episode of vomit on the windy roads). Dear friends are staying with us for a couple days around the wedding and I'll have photos and stories from that later. For now, I want to sit with my hands around a mug and talk with an old (and silly) friend, while our children play together. Be back soon.