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A Wedding “Up North”

view from houseWe went up to West Branch, Michigan Saturday for Brian’s cousin’s wedding. I had been to West Branch years ago, but it was at night and I didn’t remember much about it. It seems every time Brian would go visit his Aunt Rosie and family, it would be on a weekend I needed to work. This was my first visit to the family home, although I did go to a different wedding a few years ago for another cousin.

I don’t know why being this far from what I think of as “civilization” is so unsettling to me. It really is just beautiful up there. We had to go on a couple of dirt roads which always make me nervous (I’m sure I read too many Hitchcock and Poe stories when I was a teen and that makes the dirt roads even more scary). I had somehow expected that the wedding would be at a church. Brian had mentioned that he thought the wedding might be somewhat casual, but I figured that was because it was a noon wedding rather than an evening affair.

Well, the wedding was at a dairy farm owned by the groom’s family. I was so unprepared for this I had a hard time adjusting for a while. There were baby cows watching the service with us, which was really a very nice canopy outdoors with a little constructed altar area made of lattice boards painted in sunflower colors: yellow and green.

Well, you all know how I feel about indoor plumbing and when we pulled up I saw a row of maybe six porta potties by the barn where the reception was to be held. I was so shocked by the surprise of it all (I had passed by on the restroom at the gas station, thinking I’d find a nicer ladies’ room at the church) that I lost my composure for a minute there.

It was impossible to miss the smell of a large barn full of cows, but it was otherwise a beautiful, sunny day. It was not too hot or too cold, not a cloud to threaten the service. One of Brian’s cousins who now lives in Florida was mentioning how “This is the life” meaning the country life was somewhat ideal in his mind. I did my best to hold my tongue, but I was very uncomfortable and would have done anything to be in a skyscraper or art museum right about then. Or my own lovely porch in the city…

I did get used to it after being there a while (although I find it hard to get used to the perfume of cow manure). It was pristeen and lovely, a farm in excellent repair which is clearly a well-run business. I just was as out of my element as a fish out of water. I think I did OK being a respectful guest but I hope I didn’t look as dazed as I felt.

The service was sweet. It was indeed casual in some ways and not in others. The bridesmaids had beautiful strapless gowns in pale green and yellow. There was a large handful of tiny children dressed in fancy clothes for the event, as mini bridesmaids and ring bearer, etc… maybe five little girls and two or three little boys.

The groom’s father wore a black t-shirt imprinted with a tuxedo and bow tie on it, under his tuxedo jacket with bouttoniere. So that part was more casual than I’d expected, although I didn’t even honestly notice that for a while and I think Brian never noticed until I pointed it out.

After the service, we retreated to Brian’s aunt Rosie’s home. It is a beautiful place with a view like being on a mountain, you could see so far…I love heights but usually find them on skyscrapers rather than hills. I also really appreciated the restroom facilities at Aunt Rosie’s!

There was what they called a “small repast” which seemed like a large luncheon buffet to me. Since it was typical American food which I can’t eat, I instead dug in to some Lebanese food I’d packed in my cooler, which was delicious. (I only wished for strawberry shortcake just a little bit, but not enough to eat it and feel bad.) Some of us played music, which I enjoyed, and then later I got to knit a little bit.

I also took a few pictures. It’s too bad that a view like that doesn’t really photograph well sometimes. For the best view there, I just couldn’t get a good picture. But above I’ve shown a picture from one side of the house, and it is just as idyllic as can be.

I can see the attraction to this sort of life. If you have a family that is big enough to keep one another company and not want to go to town often… if you don’t want to eat in restaurants a lot, then why not live on a hill with a magnificent view? On the other side of the house than the picture, they had playground equipment: a geodesic dome climbing structure, a tall pole with ladder to climb, and I think a swingset. It would be a good place to grow up.

Later we did go back to the barn for the dance/reception. I generally get overwhelmed with how many people there are in this family, and how even the cousins don’t always know each other’s names. Fortunately, I’ve been with Brian for about 7 years now and I am starting to know at least a few faces. It was pretty nice overall, I got to know a few more of Brian’s cousins, including Roberta, who has been living in Ireland for quite a long time now.

sandpileThe reception was in a large barn which apparently held tractors a few weeks ago. They emptied it, scrubbed it, installed metal siding on the walls, painted other areas, set up a kitchen area, made a clean and roomy space for a large crowd.

The wedding service had been basically family, but the reception clearly was large enough to accommodate all the friends of the young married couple. It was well thought out. There was a big buffet dinner (see picture of corner with all the food… above the food were shelves full of toy John Deere tractors and cows). Outside there was a large metal truck wheel without a tire, inside which they made a bonfire when it got dark. Before dark, the children played on a huge sand pile with scores of toys. I can just imagine how fun it must have been for the kids.

catgirlOne of Brian’s cousins had a preschooler daughter who was sitting contentedly with a cat on her lap most of the time. That cat was so sweet and easygoing, it let her do anything to it. I never did find out if it was her cat or not, but they were far from home so that makes me wonder if it was just a sweet pet from the farm. I took one picture of her sitting with the kitten and left good enough alone. After that, she came over to me every ten minutes or so, and commanded me to take her picture (with the kitty draped over her arms in some very contorted ways, and cat not worried one bit). Of course, I obliged… and got some very cute pictures. What a sweetie!

One Response to “A Wedding “Up North””

  1. Em Says:

    i was googlin’ west branch and came across your website. i grew up there for nine years. small town yes. i live in florida now too. anyways i had to say it because i came to your website might as well comment on it.
    the town is boring. and lol as far as civilization…the cows are better company.