The wolf willow is out, and the river is high. The evergreens have pushed out electric green tips, and the deciduous leaves are still fresh and full of moisture. Ladyslippers and orchids and the pale blue columbine have all made their appearance. It is June in the mountains, and we are all breathing deeply, trying to soak in the moment. This is the season we’ve been waiting for.
It will be gone before we know it, everyone is saying the same thing, the day after the Solstice and I’ve heard it ten times today, “it’s all downhill from here”. Except it’s not. The truth is we stay high like this for the next six weeks, and all the alpine flowers will bloom in their annual progression, and the clouds will come and go, but the sun will be high, higher than everything, unencumbered by the south ranges.
And this year, for the first time in my life, it’s full-on wedding season. This summer, I’ll be officiating at weddings on mountaintops, in gazebos, by water, at the golf course, in the big hotels, on grassy meadows. My couples (yes I think of them that way) are busy, attending to the last details, trying to finish things at work in order to take a few days or weeks off, preparing lists of “Things to do in the Rockies” for visiting friends and family.
They too, are breathing in the first days of this summer, the summer that will always be for them, remembered. “2014” is printed on all their invitations, forever marking this as the year they were married.
No matter what kind of ceremony is planned, these days the transition from unmarried to married can be a bit subtle. Subtle, and powerful. Frankly, all of my couples live together now, and are already deeply engaged in committed relationships. But the amount of intention and reflection and consideration they are bringing to their ceremonies is humbling. Some of my couples have been thinking about their vows for months, wanting every word to convey just the right meaning.
Ready or not, they will soon pledge those vows, and name their commitment. They’ll stand face to face in front of a few people or a few hundred people, and they’ll do it with tears, or without, with strong voices that waver with emotion, or with a quiet, private, confidence. They’ll read their own words, or they’ll listen to mine, and nod and say yes. I do. I will. Absolutely. They will either trust themselves at that moment, or trust in the partnership, to help them live into their promises.
And after that, they’ll let out a sigh, whether you hear it or not, because from that point on it’s all downhill. Except that it’s not.
There are the rings to exchange, and the signing to do before the pronouncement – the moment when they face their guests and hear me repeat the words husband and wife. There’ll be champagne and toasting and hugging, not to mention the photos, all those poses and all that smiling, and the eating and drinking and dancing. And, finally, then, they’ll close the doors on the day, and look at each other, really look at each other. They’ll be facing the same beloved one they slept with last night. And yet. The warmth of the day will last for months.
The summer will pass, because it always does, and the year will wax round. As the leaves lose their moisture and change colour, and drop into sleep, “my couples” will be living out their first full year of marriage. So much living to be done. So much learning, and growing. All that ebb and flow, and it won’t be easy. But it will be good. The work, of living into those vows, will bring the season around again. And this time next year, the anniversaries will begin.