Last Saturday, a fine September day complete with a glorious September blue sky, my husband, Clif and I headed to Marlborough, Massachusetts, to attend the wedding of Andrea Maddi, a young woman whom we have known since she was six years old. Andrea has been friends with our daughter Shannon all through the years, and we quite literally have watched her grow up. I always find these rites of passage very moving, even though it, of course, means that I am growing old. But the young are taking their place in the world, which is as it should be, and somehow this is a great comfort to me. We all move on.
Clif and I left early to head “south,” and like many Mainers, I am always a little nervous crossing the Piscataqua River Bridge, the big bridge out of Maine that goes from Kittery to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Conversely, it is always a great relief to cross that bridge back into Maine, to be coming home. I know. I am a hobbit by nature. Home is best.
The trip itself was uneventful. We didn’t get lost, we arrived with plenty of time to eat our lunch—yogurt, pretzels, and an apple—and change our clothes at the hotel where our daughter Shannon (the matron of honor in the wedding) and her husband, Mike, were staying.
Andrea and her husband, Ben Arnott, were married in a little white New England church with its very own steeple. The church was on a green, of course, and just up the road from a grist mill with a water wheel that proved to be the perfect spot for wedding photos.
Andrea, elegant as always, was a lovely bride. She and Ben were clearly thrilled to be getting married, and truly they both had a beautiful glow on their faces. No amount of money or trappings can compensate for this glow, which would make even the humblest place shine.
The reception was at a country club not far from the church, and readers, the food was very good, probably the best I have ever had at a wedding. Some of the delights included little crab cakes; chicken wrapped in phyllo dough; creamy squash soup; a basil, mozzarella, and tomato salad drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette; and for Clif and me, tender, juicy fillet mignon, cooked just right. (There were two other main meal choices as well.)
During the meal, we sat next to a young man named Gordon Stocks IV. (His young son is Gordon Stocks V.) Gordon is the husband of Glenna, Andrea’s bridesmaid, and Gordon not only proved to be “a good eater,” cleaning his own plate as well as some from his wife’s plate, but he was also lively and engaging. In the course of our conversation we learned that Gordon owns his own tree service business. He’s the guy you call when a tree comes down in an inopportune place like, say, across your driveway or on the roof of your house. Or, if you’re smart, you call him to remove a tree before it falls someplace you’d rather not have it fall. If the tree is big and in a tight spot, Gordon climbs the tree to remove it piece by piece, which is why he can be both a good eater and very trim.
What interested me about Gordon and Glenna is how they have constructed their lives. Gordon has chosen a fairly nontraditional career. Let’s face it, not every young man wants to be spend his days shinnying up trees and splitting wood. But Gordon loves it, the challenges as well as the physical work. Glenna freelances as a graphic designer and also tends bar a couple of nights a week. This allows her to spend much of her time with her little son.
Early in their relationship, Glenna and Gordon bought a two-family house in town. Over time, this allowed them to buy five acres in the country and have a house built, where they did much of the work themselves. They have a garden and want to expand it as time goes on. Glenna, a girl after my own heart, would like to have chickens and other farm animals, too.
Through common sense, hard work, and careful planning, Glenna and Gordon are thriving in a time where it is not always easy to thrive. Not everyone could choose the path they have taken, but it certainly shows how with creativity, it is still possible for young couples to live a good life.
This, in turn, brings me back to Andrea and Ben. May they, too, thrive in these challenging times and live a good, creative life.