Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Westport Wedding, Near Boston

We've attended the loveliest wedding I can remember, this last weekend,  May 27, 2012,  in Westport, Massachusetts. It was a true celebration of the marriage of Erin Blake and Peter Elephante.  Pete's parents, Mike Elephante and Louise Sawyer, of Boston, have a second home in Westport, and Erin is the daughter of our dear friend, Margie Wright Blake, of Canton, Ohio, and Jim Blake of North Canton.

As a "roamer," I rarely is not my favorite thing to do. Actually, it qualifies as my LEAST favorite thing, but it was a necessity in order to get to Massachusetts and back over the Memorial Day weekend. I had to be back in the classroom on Tuesday.  Knowing this, months ago, I made the flight reservations.  I'm talking October.  I guess that having the reservation made, on my calendar, and fully paid for long ago, helped me to get on the plane and fly.  I had months to get mentally ready for the take-offs and landings.  If I plan to fly again, I'd better start planning early again, as it seemed to work.  Sunny days without much wind helped a lot, also!

We left Akron-Canton Airport on Saturday, May 26, via Air Tran, arrived at Logan Airport in Boston less than two hours later, rented a car from Enterprise without any snags or waiting, and after a stop at  Taco Bell, we were on our way to Westport, seventy-some miles south of Boston.

To tell about this event, I have to explain that the mother of the bride, Margie, had already flown there. On our plane were several other couples and people going to the wedding. We'd met a lot of them at an engagement party back in November, or throughout years of being friends with Margie. There were actually people at the airport who told us, as we grouped together pre-flight, that they would prefer to go to OUR wedding rather than the one they were going to, since we seemed to be having such a good time before we'd even taken off!

One of the couples, Bruce and Nancy Darrah, would be staying with us at a Westport house that was generously loaned to us by friends of the groom's family. Two bedrooms and a shared bath awaited us. We also had dinner reservations for Saturday night with the Darrahs and another dear friend, Suzy Deitemeyer, who had flown in earlier that day.

Once off the interstate, we realized we were "not in Kansas anymore."  The Fork in the Road gave us a clue. We also found that we continually crossed over the state line between Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and so giving Thelma (our trusty GPS) an address became a guessing game of which state we were in, or going to. Roads with curves in them and lots of foliage have a way of preventing me from knowing where I am, also. I'm pretty good at directions and remembering how I got someplace, but not with all the twists and turns of this area! With Thelma's help, however, we did manage to get to Whistler Point and the home of our hosts, The Sweetsers. 

We immediately noticed the rocks. Everywhere, rock fences divide property, decorate property, define it. Farmers had to clear their land, years ago, (and Massachusetts is one of the first states, so we're talking OLD) and they found rocks by the zillions.They stacked them up and made "fences" or whatever they're called. They are amazing! No mortar, just the rocks, neatly stacked together form lovely definition to the landscapes and yards.

Imagine opening your house to strangers and letting them have the run of the place. That's what the Sweetsers did.  Their son was in there somewhere, and occasionally Art or Cindy would join us for a beer or glass of wine on their wonderful back porch, but for the most part we were in and out of their spacious house to attend wedding events for the next two and a half days with a "Have fun!" or a "See you later!" Wonderful hosts, and very very generous friends of Pete's parents.

Shortly it was time to pick up Suzy, who was staying at a guest house in Little Compton, Rhode Island, which was technically very close, but on winding roads seemed to be a long distance from us. We piled the Darrahs into our car and went to find Suzy, whose cell phone had just given up the ghost, so she was waiting for us in her driveway.  Dear Thelma led us south again, closer to the ocean, to The Back Eddy. This restaurant has been featured in Bon Appetit Magazine some years ago, and well deserves to be there! It was hoppin' with people lining the back deck enjoying the 7:23 sunset along with their cocktails. We had a reservation (recommended), and were seated inside within a short time. Of course we overate and over-imbibed a bit, but we had survived flying, a cause celebre'!   Divine food!  We both ordered the crispy bluefish.. It was beautifully prepared and the presentation was lovely. After dinner, it was back to "our house," and a good night's rest.

In the morning, the Darrahs let me accompany them on a 3.5 mile hike all over the area where we were staying.  We walked to the Acoaxet Club where the reception would be held that night. We were brazen enough to walk right up to the clubhouse and take a look at the view to the sea and the harbor, then back to "our house."  Westport seems to have many homes that are summer retreats, and vacationers were biking or walking as we paced the roads.

Once back, we were starving, so Thelma tried to take us to a local restaurant called The Barn.  Unfortunately, Thelma was misguided, and with some luck, Bruce Darrah found it on his own, with a little help from a native.  We had a divine breakfast there: Eggs Benedict and a Portuguese Omelet. We also drove around Little Compton to find the site of the wedding, visited The Gristmill store, and got our bearings for later that afternoon.

Back in Westport, we located the Atlantic Ocean (which actually seemed evasive with the twisty roads and foliage.....) and Randy and I had a beach walk in one direction, and the Darrahs had one in the other.  We agreed to meet back at the Elephant Rock beach house an hour later.

We did not go far. The beach was rocky, and instead of shell collecting, we soon had our pockets and hands loaded with fabulously round or oval rocks of many different colors. The sun was out, and we rested against a big old rock and just relaxed. We watched a pretty little dark-haired girl playing joyfully in the water with her grandmother, and as we were leaving the beach we ran into relatives of the bride who were spending the day at the ocean, before the main event.
(At the end of this weekend, I packed three humongous rocks into my suitcase, knowing that I had a fifteen pound leeway at the airline scale.  I couldn't take them home in my purse, as they might be interpreted as "weapons." They look great in our garden.......)
After our beach walk, we went back to "our house" and dressed for the wedding, then left to pick Suzy up for the main event of the weekend.
There are really no words to tell how beautiful this wedding was!  I will simply add the few photos I took that evening, and let them speak for themselves.

You knew I couldn't do that. 

 I have to tell you about the church, the First Congregational Church of Compton, Rhode Island.  This group organized in 1704.  They like to say that it is "older than the United States!" The first building was begun in 1724.  (That's a hundred years older than the church I belonged to in Poland, Ohio.) The sanctuary is upstairs! They do have an elevator that is out of sight, for folks who need it. They have had 34 ministers over the years, and some are memorialized on the walls of the sanctuary. 
The churchyard cemetery reportedly holds the grave of the child born to the union of Miles Standish and the woman he married after he went to deliver a proposal to her on behalf of his friend, in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's fictional poem. (Apparently the real Myles Standish spelled his name with a Y.)  You might remember that in the story, she said, "Speak for yourself, Miles Standish!" and she married HIM.  Nonetheless, the local story we heard is what we heard.  We didn't have time to look for that grave, and the ones that we did see had the names worn off by the weather.

  The front doors of the church were graced with two beautiful wedding wreaths of pink peonies, enhanced with lady's mantle, and it looked stunning.

The music started at 5:00 promptly, and one of the first people down the aisle was that beautiful child we had watched playing on the beach a few hours before!  She was accompanied by some other gorgeous children, relatives of the groom, and Josh Blake, the bride's nephew, all of age two.  He was carrying a satin pillow which I presume had a ring tightly attached to it. The little girls had round floral bouquets of pink flowers hanging from their wrists.   So pretty!

Eight bridesmaids dressed in bright pink, simple dresses, matching bracelets and earrings, and carrying gorgeous peony bouquets, and wearing huge smiles, followed the children.   Then we stood to watch Erin Elizabeth Blake, on the arm of her father, Jim, walk down the aisle to her smiling groom. Pete was surrounded by eight handsome groomsmen who were all smiling and looking at Erin, in awe.  Erin was radiant, and absolutely shining.
The ceremony was short and to the point. The minister delivered an awesome homily about how these two young people had moved around each other for years without even seeing each other, but when they did.......Love!  A hymn was sung by everyone, The Lord's Prayer was recited with some stumbling over the "debts / trespasses" part, rings were exchanged, then a kiss, and VOILA! They were married people!  Smiles all around, a fairly short time to exit the upper room, bubbles flying in the air, and hugs and congratulations were all around.

The reception at the Acoaxet Club (don't ask me to pronounce this....) was beautiful.  Appetizers were served by wandering waiters as we gathered on the large deck.  Lovely shawls in every possible pastel color, seemingly making their own bouquet in a huge basket, were gifts to the women, as there was a brisk chilly air blowing on the deck.

Toasts by the Father of the Bride, the Best Man and the Maid of Honor left us all teary-eyed. We toasted. We dined. We danced, we jumped, we laughed, we drank.  We ate beautifully prepared chicken with green beans and potatoes, and finished it with deliciously sweet wedding cake. The party, for us, continued until the young people took over the dance floor and we just knew it was time to go "home."  Once there, however, we continued the party on the back deck, with Cindy Sweetser joining us.  I fell asleep a couple of times, I confess, before making it up the stairs.

In the morning we were invited to the home of the groom's parents to a fantastic brunch.  Their house is so gracious and warm, with an enormous deck that encircles the back of the house. The home exuded the genuine welcoming feeling of Mike and Louise also exude. The flowers from the wedding and reception filled the rooms. We selected from a buffet of muffins, eggs, tortilla wraps, juices and lots of hot coffee. Afterwards, we sat on the deck and talked with relatives of everybody, and relatives of the relatives.  When the bride and groom had arrived, and more and more people arrived, we knew it was time for us to exit and head back to Boston.

We had a very few hours to spend in Boston. We'd never explored there before, together, except for one disastrous traffic jam we experienced when The Big Dig was being dug, some years ago..........and we didn't stop to see Boston that time. This time, Suzy was following us, and Thelma was guiding, and we managed to find the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

As children of the sixties who recall November 23, 1963 in vivid black and white, JFK has been a pivotal part of our histories.  We NEEDED to see this place.  I was surprised by how quickly we were through it, however.  We had been to the Clinton Library in Little Rock, and it took a very long time to see it. Randy reminded me that JFK was only in office for three years, whereas Clinton was President for eight. Small wonder there were so many more gifts and mementos there.  I thoroughly enjoyed this time remembering the Kennedys, and was grateful to have the opportunity to be there.

Here, I will try very hard to let the photos speak..................

I was going to include a photo of a photo of JFK and Jackie which I shot inside the library, but worried that copyright laws might get in the just imagine them. :)

We left for  Logan Airport, and endured some mild hysteria in Boston traffic, during which we got to see Beacon Hill and China Town, a byproduct of being lost, which is not our favorite way to sightsee, but for Boston it seemed to work.

We had dinner at Legal Seafood right there in the airport, concourse C,  with Suzy.  I had a wonderful baked scrod with a Caesar salad and jasmine rice. We'd heard about Legal Seafood from the Darrahs, and they were very right!  Delicious! Legal Seafood is a chain of seafood restaurants that is only on the east coast. There are thirty restaurants up and down the Atlantic, with one as far south as Florida. The business is over 60 years old, and their food is excellent enough for Julia Child to have attended their 50th anniversary event some years ago.  If they'd only go west............But they do have a cookbook, so I must investigate that.

Suzy went off to catch her plane, and we went off to meet ours, on which Margie was also flying, along with numerous other wedding guests, some who we knew and some we did not.  We had all shared the common experience of watching a beautiful wedding, and wishing Erin and Pete a happy future.

We did arrive safely around 9 PM with only one small squeak out of me on the landing.  This was promising.  I may be able to fly...........................

And did I mention the flowers?

Copyright: KP Gillenwater