Saturday, July 21, 2012

All I Need to Do is Breathe

Recently, my husband and I helped our friends drink a bottle of Shiraz and address invitations for their August wedding. “Thirty-four days,” my harried friend reminded me. Like in so many second marriages, the date is a decision made in committee, and nailing down a venue in Wine Country with short notice is nerve wracking—pass the bottle, please.
 I re-filled Linda’s wine glass, “It’s pretty good, once it breathes.” I said of their first attempt at wine making.
“Like organizing a wedding at the last minute. All I need to do is breathe.”
Or medicate, I thought. David and I negotiated our August date while we pre-honeymooned in Tuscany the May before—with twenty-three of my closest relatives. We could pull it off in two months, couldn’t we? We pondered this over white truffle ravioli in sage butter washed down with a lush Sangiovese from the Montepulciano region. August 1st would work, although I’d have preferred later in the month—we didn’t want to conflict with the July 31st opening of the latest Harry Potter movie and we wanted to avoid the wind and chill of fog. Summer in the shadow of Sonoma Mountain can be so iffy.
Back at home we sipped Chianti and hand made one hundred seventy-five invitations. (If you’ve kept your invitation, may I have it back? I never got one!) My nephew, then newly graduated from the California Culinary Academy, and I tasted brews at Lagunitas Brewing Company while we conferred about the menu— yes, he could duplicate the ravioli in sage-truffle beurre blanc, and it would pair well with the apple notes of the Pils—a Czeck style pilsner. But wouldn’t I rent a grill and let him barbeque some beef?
“You know we don’t eat red meat—tequila-lime shrimp skewers?” I negotiated.
“Only if you make it Herradura tequila,” Chef replied. 
One hundred fifty RSVPs arrived. Wow! I didn’t know we had so many friends. The problem was, on our sloping gopher field, where would we put them all?
 “Deck over the yard,” my problem solving near-husband said. “Dad and Den can do it; give them the keg.”
 Amid the circus of construction and in-laws-to-be staying with us for the week preceding the wedding—David’s revenge for the pre-honeymoon—it was hard to tell that our day had come.
Tentacles of fog arrived with the guests, most driving too fast on our unpaved lane and churning dust all over my tables. The family was still slapping paint onto the deck railings; Chef shambled in three hours late looking hung-over without the tequila-marinated shrimp. My hairdresser plied me with wine and held me hostage in the house, insisting that it was bad luck for anyone to see me in my flounced, Victorian-inspired dress before the ceremony. I missed all the photos with David’s family.
The band, which included the Phoenix Theater’s Music Director, Gio Benedetti, on bass and Petaluma guitarist, Alec Furhman, (check out his 80s cover band, Choppin’Broccoli) struck up the processional. My Man of Honor, leading Chocolatte, our mortified Lab who carried the rings pinned to a heart-shaped pillow tied around her neck, started the procession down the eucalyptus-chip path toward the creek and the gazebo where our officiate waited. David was not in sight.
As I searched the sea of smiling faces for my betrothed, I noticed a billboard that must have gone up during the night, looming over the treetops:  Planning a wedding? Call 1-800-RUN LIKE HELL. Had David seen that? I clutched my vows in my fist and considered trading in my jeweled flip-flops for Nikes. But the music stopped and he stepped off the stage to join me—my Bart Maverick in scruffy tennis shoes. I really wanted him to wear that hot pair of snakeskin cowboy boots we saw at Jay Palm, but the collarless shirt and wild west vest were as far as he would go.
The setting was magical with Sonoma Mountain and Pam Bell’s magnificent flower arrangements as backdrops. The Flamenco guitar was sensual food for our ears as Chef’s grilled salmon (and ravioli) was for our tongues, and people are still talking about that Harlequin wedding cake custom designed by Patisserie Angelica. No one twisted an ankle in a gopher tunnel and no one missed the shrimp skewers. It may have taken us a week to clean up the mess, but we had in-laws to help.
Next month, when David and I celebrate our 6th anniversary, the party’s going to be with our dear friends at their homegrown wedding (local French gypsy band, Dgiin is playing!) But for that special toast to us—our marriage and the blessings of our lives in Sonoma County—it’s not going to be over dinner at Cucina Paradiso like last year. Instead we’ll celebrate the first flush into our new septic tank—and I’m hoping that the sixth anniversary gift isn’t toilet paper.