Whitefield takes center stage
The prep work tornado
While we were up gallivanting around the mountain on Saturday, a small army of our friends and family had already descended on Dan’s cabin in Whitefield to begin the prep work for the next day’s reception. It was like a military operation. Vicki and Zlatska had the smoker roaring, Anu was already starting up on the chicken. Pasta, bean dip, sausage, cheese was been cut, divided, prepared.
And on top of all that, Anu made an enormous pot of spaghetti for the hikers who returned that evening. There is nothing as tasty as forkloads of pasta waiting for you after a climb. Most of those who accompanied us on our hike were staying over someplace at camp, so accommodations needed to be made, tents erected and hungry hikers fed.
My major role in the weekend being over, I mainly tried to stay out of the way. I didn’t want to get run over by one of Meena’s hard working cousins carrying a giant plate of bean dip!
So, I set about making sure the folks tenting out had spots and were comfortable and that everybody got a little something to eat.
The evening ended on a high note, once again surrounded by our closest friends, eating leftovers by the fire.
The morning, however, was different. Most of us were up around 6 a.m. and Sandeep – who along with Anu basically managed the whole affair – had created teams with tasks. Sid and Marianne were on my team, but before they woke up I figured I could deal with the parking situation. We had a dozen cars parked haphazardly around the cabin and another 30 or so coming in a few hours. Our neighbors had generously allowed us to use their cabins and streets and I set about moving the cars there. Then, I set up a gateway of sorts at the head of the drive to keep people from pulling past the entrance way. Later, my brother-in-law John and nephew Max would do an outstanding job directing traffic and keeping a good flow through the thin gravel roads around camp.
Next up was assembling a greeting tent, with juice, soda, handy wipes and bug spray for the guests. As a safety measure I also fogged the walkway leading to the tent and the surrounding area.
Then, it was time for signage and Sid and Marianne tackled the signs, balloons and set up admirably. At least no one had a hard time finding us so I think it all turned out ok.
I poked my head into the cabin at some point that afternoon, but the flash of kitchen knives and frantic cooking made me run away in fear for my life! Man, those folks did a great job making the food!
By the time the guests started arriving, we were nearly done. Food was set out, apps were being consumed, cars were parked, and everyone seems to get in and out easily and happily. At about 12:15 Meena’s cousins started physically pulling the two of us together so we could just begin greeting guests and getting on with being good hosts!
I’m glad they did as it was a joy to see all the folks who arrived and chat a little bit with them. My good friend Jeff gave me this piece of advice – just try to be in the moment, things will be going so fast and you’ll be meeting so many people, try to not lose your memory of the day. Meena’s friend told her it was important for us to stay together once the reception started, be a team. And we tried our best to follow both of those bits of advice.
I had sprung it on Alan, Sandeep and Andrea that I wanted them to say a few words during the toast, and the Farmer had already asked us if he could do a toast so we had some entertainment for the guests.
Once again, for the second time in two weeks I found myself in front of a crowd of people being grateful for their support. I mostly concentrated on singling out everyone who helped us with the meal and set up. Alan spoke about our childhood, of course, and gave a vivid little speech about the hike the day before. The Farmer talked about his own relationship with his wife Jennifer and about how it took him years to marry her as well! Sandeep welcomed my family to his and got the biggest laughs with his observations about how now perhaps our marriage will take some of the pressure off him! And my sister, Andrea, despite some acrobatics by little Max, gave a moving speech about growing up and how proud she was of us!
Then it was time to eat, and eat everyone did. It was two hours of devouring some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. (Made with love!) And as the day wound down, we gathered everyone there together for pictures, including a one-of-a-kind group shot.
The rest of the day was spent winding down, eating leftovers, sipping iced tea, and thanking those who were there, who came late, who stayed around with us. And again, we built a fire, and as the day wound down, and Meena opened some wedding gifts, and we tried to finish the remaining beer, and the day turned to evening, our wedding came to a close.
You know, in re-reading the passage above, I worried that it wasn’t exciting enough, that there was no cliff hanger, no serious turn of events to draw readers. I wondered if it would be interesting enough to even write down.
But in the end I leave it for what it was- perfect. A perfect day. For one afternoon Meenakshi and I were surrounded by people we love and who came together to help us celebrate a relationship that has already been ongoing for a decade and we hope will continue for the rest of our lives. Of all the planning and challenges that we faced over the last couple months, this day, finally, was perfect.
It takes more than two people to make an event like this memorable. In our case, we were incredibly fortunate to have dozens of people who over the last few months worked tirelessly to make the weekend happen.
We also have an amazing amount of pictures from the two days events. It seems like everyone had a camera. In these posts I tried to highlight just a tiny sample of these pics. When we return from Nepal, we will gather all these photos (and I would guess that conservatively there are thousands) and create a photo album of the whole event. We’ll also soon have a Faces of the Reception slide show to accompany our Faces of the Mountain slide show.
I leave you with this: of all the lessons we have learned in the past few months, of all the tears and joy and stress and beauty, the most important lesson has been that we are not alone. Miles may separate us from some, and culture may single us out from others, but we move into our future with the empowering understanding that we are connected to friends and family who wish us well, and their support becomes our strength.
Thank you all! And now, on to Nepal! Here’s a few final shots that are some of my favorites…