DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT VEGETARIAN JERKY!

I am in a place for weddings.

A big wedding happens here every weekend from May 1 till October 31. Ceremonies take place up the hill and then everyone comes down for reception, dinner, and dance. There is also a fireplace for S’mores (look it up if you don’t know what it is, I had to), not to mention candy bars (as in stands with candies on them). Stanley and I come here a lot in order to go up the hill and into the woods. We usually try to get here in the mornings so as not to disturb the celebrations, and yesterday morning we saw the threads of origami cranes attached to the branches of the tree and I paused, looked, wondered.

The man who owns this place came down with Parkinson’s Disease a few years ago at quite a young age. He loved working on the place on his own; I often saw him on his tractor mowing the long tracts of grass, his wife creating planters with flowers all along the paths. I don’t see him now at all, he’s home exercising and doing alternative therapies to check the disease.

So now it’s his wife who, weekend by weekend, comes down here to manage weddings. She has help, but still she supervises the laying out of the white chairs on top of the hill circling the arbor where the couple stands and makes their vows. She checks out the banquet facility and the placement of chairs and tables, the flowers, the music, the dance floor.

Many of the weddings take place late Saturday and the families come back on Sunday mornings for celebratory brunch before going home. Often the new couple stays in the yurt on the premises, which she beautifies with flowers, and when Stan and I go up the path by the yurt we could sometimes hear them getting up. At the end of the weekend of supervising weddings, she goes home to take care of her husband, Monday through Friday, in his work with Parkinson’s.

So yesterday I stood under the tree and looked at the strings of origami. Stan looked up impatiently. “Why are you standing there?”

“I’m thinking about what it’s like to work on weddings in the weekend, Stanley.”

“I’m thirsty, let’s go home.”

“There’s so much life in weddings, Stanley. You start anew with someone you love. There’s romance, passion, and confidence about the future, the sense that all of life is ahead of you and the world is celebrating your beginning together. But if we were to come back here later today, Stan, we’d see the crew tearing things down and filling up the dumpster, and she will go home to take care of her husband with Parkinson’s for the week before coming down here again late Friday.”

“What kind of snack am I getting when we get home? I hope you thought up something special.”

“Oh Stanley, how come you’re always thinking about food?”

“How come you’re always thinking about life and death?”

“It’s all around us, Stan, that’s why. You think there’s a choice?”

“Of course there’s a choice, you can think of lots of things. You can think of biscuits, cookies, Thai chicken, cheddar cheese, beef jerky—DO NOT think of vegetarian jerky they should be shot—chili, rice, banana pudding, lasagna, chips, sesame crackers, walnuts—”

“Okay, okay, I get the picture, Stan. Why think about important things when you can be frivolous?”

“My point exactly.”