Ralph Gardner Jr: The Day After

Jul 6, 2019

So the wedding at our house – my daughter’s wedding – is over. I feared its aftermath might feel anti-climactic but the general sensation is one of happiness, satisfaction and perhaps most of all relief.

Relief that the grass no longer has to be mowed and the hedges trimmed to perfection. Relief that one need not fear that the pool might have chosen that weekend to turn purple or so other arresting color. And most of all relief that the weather cooperated, after suggesting all week, and up to the very last minute, that it might not.

I’ve heard people say the weather doesn’t really matter. That the joy of the occasion can outshine and overwhelm even the most disruptive of meteorological forces. In other words, that love conquers all.

I believe that, though a category 4 hurricane, or even an untimely thunderstorm can put a crimp in the most attentive and professional wedding planner’s best laid plans. And we didn’t have a wedding planner.

About a week out, the forecast appeared to promise sublime weather -- until the day of the wedding. Then there would be thunderstorms. A forty percent chance.

One thing I still find perversely reassuring is that for all our computer models and algorithms we still can’t accurately predict the weather more than a few days out; sometimes it feels like but a few hours. And sometimes not at all.

Nonetheless, the forecast gave little cause for comfort, the risk of storms rising to fifty percent as the grand day grew near, the winds eventually described as “damaging.” Oh, and then there was the possibility of hail.

I learned long ago that one should lose sleep over only those things one can control in life, the weather and male pattern baldness not being among them.

Yet I was also familiar with how different the property looks under a ravishing sun rather than sullen cloud cover.

And while money shouldn’t be a factor, after spending so much of it on things like tents, porta potties (by the way we got lots of compliments on their loveliness), and golf carts – not to mention the caterers, flowers, the band, the DJ – one couldn’t help but take it personally if the universe showed distain, if not downright contempt, for humanity by raining on my daughter’s wedding.

That it did. But only as people were arriving and gathering under a tent in the backyard that has been erected with that possibility in mind. But it was fine. The Lucky Five, a jazz band out of Great Barrington, MA, set a festive tone and the bar was fully operational.

The order of the afternoon was to have the ceremony at our pond, drinks in the backyard, dinner on the tennis court – the Grand Canyonesque cracks repaired for the occasion – and an after party at the pool.

You’ve heard this story before (the moral being that we live in a loving universe) but right before my daughter and I embarked on our walk from the house to the pond, with the rumble of thunder just to the south of us accompanying the Lucky Five, the sun broke out in full splendor.

As the ceremony got underway, the pond couldn’t have looked more beautiful. Indeed, at moments I was distracted by the birds flying overheard, the turtles bobbing to the still surface of the water, and the squirrels that erupted in chorus; since I don’t speak squirrel I couldn’t tell whether they were alarmed by the sight of 140 or so guests invading their territory or were simply summoning the spirits of the forest.

The actual music as we strolled in was The Beatles’ “The Two of Us” sung by a couple of my younger daughter Gracie’s gifted college friends.

Having the wedding at our house and the ceremony at the pond was Lucy’s idea. She’d grown up there, catching worms and frogs from the time she was a toddler.

Fortunately, she restrained herself from pursuing such leisure during the ceremony or foraging for mushrooms (the passion that has replaced clutching an uncooperative reptile or amphibian in the palm of her hand) though she did design her wedding gown discreetly embroidered with insects.

The weather remained spectacular throughout the evening: through dinner (I’d earlier contemplated the possibility that the tent could get struck by lightening or become airborne); during a fireworks display (the night so clear that the planets and stars competed with the sky rockets for attention); and at the after party where there were more people in the pool than ever recorded.

And if that wasn’t enough, there was a brunch at the house the next day. It bookended the wedding, together with a Friday night welcoming gathering at the Half Moon Tavern by the train station in Hudson, NY.

So that by the time Monday morning rolled around, the tents came down, and quiet had returned to the property, all that was left to do was to debrief and bask in the summer sun and the relief that comes to those who managed to beat the meteorological odds. Indeed, in the end it was nature and the weather that turned out to be the most popular guests of all.

Ralph Gardner, Jr. is a journalist who divides his time between New York City and Columbia County. More of his work can be found at ralphgardner.com

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