What an amazing trip. I went to visit my mom and Tim in Florida to celebrate Tim’s birthday as they prepare to move north. They’ve had a seven year adventure on the Gulf of Mexico and are about to start a new adventure in New England near the grandchildren.
I rented a convertible Mustang for the occassion. On the 4th we put on a Chuck Berry CD and I sat in the back with the top down, cruising with the folks and watching fireworks.
A couple days later I drove up to Gainesville to visit my great friend Dina and attend a wedding as her +1. The wedding was on Lake Rabun in Georgia. I’ve never spent any time in Georgia before, only having passed through once in 1994 drive up the east coast.
Let me describe a scene:
Banjo Song – Duck and Goose
I’m sitting in a handmade rocking chair in a rolling green field and sipping cool sweet tea. It is evening and has only just started to cool down from a sweltering day. The drops of sweat have stopped running down my back, having never made it through my tee to the dress shirt. I’ve loosened my tie and undone the top two buttons to help. A lovely friend of mine is close at hand.
The field is a lush clearing shaded by forest on both sides. A trickling stream winds through. We jumped across the stream just a moment ago. Behind us are rows of simple white benches by an archway woven of branches. The bride hung her mother’s veil on the archway so it could flow in the breeze while she and her groom exchanged their vows.
Just moments ago these two lovely people that I barely know promised each other the rest of their lives. A few hours earlier we had joined them by the side of the nearby lake; swimming, laying on the dock, and swinging carefree from the second floor of the boathouse, through the air, and plummeting into the inviting water below. But just now I saw them dressed in fine greys and whites, handsome and beautiful, as they spoke to each other here in this field.
Right now the newlyweds are a further down the field greeting friends and family, while my friend and I listen to a beautiful song, Atoms of Ashes.
Atoms of Ashes – Duck and Goose
It’s performed by an unassuming couple nearby singing sweet harmonies and taking turns playing acoustic guitar and banjo. They’re beautiful beings, and there’s a simple authenticity coming from them that quickly cuts me down to pure experience.
There’s no way any recording can capture everything that went into that perfect moment, but listening to their six-song EP over and over on the drive from Gainesville to the airport brought me back to this place. It’s my favorite bit of music in a long time.
The bride and groom come over and listen to the last couple songs before the bartender moves her wares from this twilight field down to the tent where the reception will be. Soon the guests migrate as well.
We walk past the tent to a dock along the riverside where several well kept boathouses line the shore. Some children are looking at a nest of baby birds in the rafters as we explore. The water winds around a bend and out of sight and I half expect to see a riverboat roll by, steam and smoke from the stack as her big wheel paddles the water. The air is still humid but as the light goes so
does most of the heat.
A seven member blues band comes to life in the tent, where they’ve installed a checkerboard dance floor for the occasion. The bride and groom share their first dance, and then join with their parents. Someone tells me I look wistful as we watch.
Later I’m sitting on the dock with my friend, feet dangling over the water while we eat seared salmon and smokey cheese grits. Blues is playing in the distance and southern voices are conversing all around nearby. I tell my friend that every single time I enter a new place and meet new people I am overcome by how wonderful they are, how rich their lives, how good their souls. And I wonder what that says about the rest of humanity, the multitudes hidden from us by isolation and ignorance and so easily assumed to be less than the beautiful, shining stars and galaxies that they are.
A little while later we’re dancing like maniacs and laughing at ourselves and each other. The singer blows a mean harmonica from behind his dark sunglasses, trading off licks with the mustachioed lead guitarist while the rhythm section drives the songs like trucks in a convoy. We dance until I can no longer keep up wiping the sweat off my forehead, at which point we seek out one of the oscillating fans set up at the corners of the floor and try not to steal all of the airflow from those still dancing.
We doze on and off in the van that takes us back to the hotel, our bobble heads swaying back and forth as the driver winds us down the road. Gusts of cool air come through the passenger window on the hard right turns and tickles our skin.
The next day we have lunch at a place called “Goats on the Roof” which features, among other attractions, goats on the roof.
And the day after that we wake up in a tent in Tallulah Gorge State Park, and enjoy a beautiful hike alongside the river, passing waterfalls, until we get to Sliding Rock where we slide down the rock and into a refreshing natural pool.
Like I said – an amazing trip.