It’s been said a beautiful and loving wedding can bring together those who are there to witness the occasion. I don’t know whether this is true or not. I’m not sure anyone has made a concerted effort to capture the data for attendees of such events. I will say, however, the wedding of my dear friends last weekend in Cazenovia, New York, was incredibly special. It was small and intimate. There were handmade details throughout, thoughtful vows, amazingly flavorful and authentic tangines, stinky cheeses, and tiny cakes baked in pretty glass jars. Yes, they were in jars! And the whole thing was loving and heartfelt in all the best possible ways. There was no cheesiness and not a single moment of camp devised solely for the purpose of a photo opportunity. No, there was none of that. These were two lovers with a mission to make their relationship official in front of their community and have a big party at the same time.
And it was the best. There were only a couple of small snafus each involving me, of course. The first mishap occurred when I was unable to find a piece of paper necessary for the ceremony. Frenzied, I took a jaunt through a snowy parking lot in a gown and had a fairly major wardrobe malfunction. Perhaps flashing an ugly nursing bra at a gaggle of teenage boys is a good lesson in abstinence? I hope so. If that weren’t bad enough, I also missed my musical cue resulting in a late, but not undramatic, entrance to deliver my portion of the ceremony. A kind soul later told me my entrance seemed very “organic.” I’ll take it. It sounds good to me.
My dear friend, hopelessly in love, assures me all is forgiven and this is a tremendous relief.
It was really one of those weekends to remember.
We rented an enormous house near the ceremony site with our friends and several other people. Everyone was wonderful and giving. We cooked together. We sang songs together. We navigated morning showers without complications and managed to keep many babies entertained. There was good coffee, even better food, and a general atmosphere of comradery as we organized the finer details of the day. And none of it really felt like work because there were many many hands to help and it was for the best possible cause.
We even had a bonfire where we sang Muppets songs and toasted with fancy champagne.
It snowed huge flakes of white snow allowing for chilly romps. I was thrilled because this gave us a chance to use the snowsuit we purchased for Maeve. She was incredibly adorable and I was delighted because the snow demonstrated to K the need for said snowsuit, which he questioned at the time of purchase.
When the snow melted, I nearly did as well. The leaves. The leaves. Now, I understand why everyone goes bananas for the changing leaves in New York. They really are something to behold. They were extraordinary– varied, wild, and nearly the color of flames.
Maybe it was all the love in the air, but I fell in love again. I fell in love with K, with Maeve, and with the little town of Cazenovia. Maybe it’s not that special of a place. I have little frame of reference for small eastern towns. Cazenovia is quaint in the sense that it’s old with aging buildings, a backdrop of heirloom farms, with a few main streets lined with small cafes and boutiques. Of course, this is exhilarating for a west coast girl like me. I just expect small towns to be series of strip malls and newly constructed developments. I was thoroughly pleased to find just the opposite.
This was the real deal.
We even managed to find some art in a fabulous park. A bookcase full of real books in the woods? How fitting and organic, if you will.
I left New York with a wistful smile and sleepy little girl. I bid goodbye to the most gorgeous countryside I’ve ever seen (outside of the Methow Valley) and felt refreshed, peaceful, and truly happy. A good wedding does, indeed, have a rejuvenating effect.
But what do you give to such a wonderful couple? In some ways, I think a wedding gift is a way of saying thank you. Thank you for being such loyal friends. Thank you for including us and being the most gracious hosts. There isn’t a gift in the world that is worthy, so I settled for a package of several things.
It was really fun to put together. Each item in the box has a special meaning and I used a numerical system to delineate each piece. I included a key for the happy couple in case the significance was not immediately apparent. I found these fabulous numbers here.
I won’t bore you with all the details of each item. This is not intended to be an exposé on our friendship or their marriage, but I will share two things. First, I included the plates shown below. Aren’t they adorable? Or, is this possibly bad kid art that only a friend or mother could love? Either way, these were a necessary component for the gift. You see, my friend A and I lived together during our late teens and early twenties. It was a time of study and cafe living. It was truly a time of great poverty as we earned our degrees. We were both sort of transient going from apartment to apartment and teetering on the brink of moving to another location at any moment. At some point, Adam tried to throw these plates away to lighten his load. These plates were his childhood plates and, really, were the only thing he still possessed from that time period. I just couldn’t bear to let them fall into the trash. So I took them. That was possibly 15 years ago. These plates have traveled with me across the country and back. These plates lived with many men in many houses and apartments. These plates and this friendship were my constants for all these years. My heart swelled as I packed them away. Adam will have kids now. He will share these plates with them. A piece of his history. I love that.
There were a few other knick knacks and such. I included some of this jam too. And, finally, I included Olive Oil Granola. I did this because I believe having breakfast together is the best possible way to start your day. It’s what loving couples need to do whenever possible. Really, I can’t think of anything better. Add a brisk walk on an autumn morning and things seem just about perfect.
I love this recipe for Olive Oil Granola as well. I have to say it’s my new favorite. It’s so impossibly good that it’s nearly impossible to describe. Suffice to say, it is sweet and crunchy and came together with just the perfect amount of chunkiness. The bits are small and go well on yogurt and ricotta. It’s forgiving in the sense that you can add and subtract what you like. I encourage you to do this. And, never fear, it’s incredibly easy to make. Ideal for our busy lives. Eat some with your partner tomorrow morning and savor your time together. Maybe you can look back on your wedding when everything felt new and fresh. It’s a worthwhile exercise. I promise.
Olive Oil Granola
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup unsweetened flake coconut
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients together. Mix thoroughly. Spread mixture on 2 rimmed baking sheets in even layers and bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.
Yield: About 9 cups.