I first met Kelly & Mike when they were sleeping on my pullout couch in Marina Del Rey, sometime in 2012. They had met on July 4th the previous year - a chance encounter on the beach between a tall, lanky bassist visiting for the weekend from Portland and a classic beauty living in LA. They fell in love.
When I met them, they were beginning the roadtrip that would carry Kelly from California to Oregon where they would continue to grow together - entwining their lives, making plans and promises. Three years later, engaged to be married, I got an email from Kelly. Their wedding would be sweet, and small, and I wanted to bear witness.
Their ceremony was on a Saturday - in a courtroom full of papers at Multnomah County Courthouse. They read each other beautiful poems and personal vows and everybody cried. Mike shared my favorite wedding reading to date; "How to Make Rhubarb Wine" by Ted Kooser.
Go to the patch some afternoon
in early summer, fuzzy with beer
and sunlight, and pick a sack
of rhubarb (red or green will do)
and God knows watch for rattlesnakes
or better, listen; they make a sound
like an old lawn mower rolled downhill.
Wear a hat. A straw hat’s best
for the heat but lets the gnats in.
Bunch up the stalks and chop the leaves off
with a buck knife and be careful.
You need ten pounds; a grocery bag
packed full will do it. Then go home
and sit barefooted in the shade
behind the house with a can of beer.
Spread out the rhubarb in the grass
and wash it with cold water
from the garden hose, washing
your feet as well. Then take a nap.
That evening, dice the rhubarb up
and put it in a crock. Then pour
eight quarts of boiling water in,
cover it up with a checkered cloth
to keep the fruit flies out of it,
and let it stand five days or so.
Take time each day to think of it.
Ferment ten days, under the cloth,
sniffing of it from time to time,
then siphon it off, swallowing some
and bottle it. Sit back and watch
the liquid clear to honey yellow,
bottled and ready for the years,
and smile. You’ve done it awfully well.
Afterwards, Mike and Kelly through a bigger party, inviting their whole community to their own backyard - where they had built a stage, and tables, and benches. Most of their wedding budget went to creating the backyard of their dreams; one where they could bring everyone they love together for good food and sweet talks and dancing - not just on their wedding day, but in the years to come.