A wedding by the river – 23/06/07

It was, in the end, a notable event on the social calendar of our small, quiet valley.
Journalists and cowboys, farmers and photographers, crooners, lawyers, professors, biologists, bikers, loggers, carpenters and former soldiers all came together earlier this month as Kristin and I got married at the end of our garden.
For those of you who are followers of this blog – and I claim no grand or great readership – my apologies for the tardiness of this posting. We have simply been overwhelmed with preparation, the event itself and the inevitable clean-up.
Seducing our family and friends all the way to our remote valley from their homes in Europe and beyond, we offered the promise of a wedding that would last a week or more. And it did. The first guests arrived at the end of May and the last to leave pulled out of our driveway only a week ago.
The Estonians were a force to be reckoned with. They set up camp on the northern marches of our land, drank prodigiously and shoveled down huge quantities of roast pig.
The Hungarians, who arrived by camper van, took the southern flank and distinguished themselves by conjuring up a goulash for 30 (actually it was a porkolt for those of you who are experts in the cuisine of the Magyars) and some mighty fine folk dancing on the big night.
Many more, and we live in a valley with an eclectic mix of characters, came from just a few miles down the road.
All were greeted at the gate by two former British Guards officers – one from the Grenadiers, the other from the Irish (my brother) – resplendent in Chechen headgear and Yugoslav Chetnik-style attire.
They carried the necessary accessories and a handsome bottle of Polish vodka with which to greet the guests.
At the appointed hour we all gathered by the river. Patricia, a friend from Winnipeg, read the short ritual – although I’m not sure who heard it over the raging river – and we made our vows.
At the moment of greatest solemnity we were joined by Masha, one of our young German Shepherds, who insisted on cozying up to the new union.
Then the party began. Hank, a self-styled cowboy from nearby Meadow Creek, let loose with superior country rap accompanied by a mouth organ. Great songs that strongly featured cows, pigs and waggons.
Sunny, our neighbour, advisor on all matters wood and good friend, crooned some beautiful old love ballads. Warren from Vancouver fetched his guitar from his camper van and joined in.
His wife Nina donned a brightly-coloured gipsy skirt and cowboy boots and danced a few rounds with Dibble, our neighbour to the north, until he collapsed, the worse for drink.
The champagne, cider and wine was joined by a large piglet, which had been carefully roasted on a spit since daybreak. The Estonians began to drink. The Hungarians began to dance.
In true Kootenays style the forgiving guests overlooked the organisational flaws – and there were a few – and the party flowed right along.
Not least of those flaws was the fact that we didn’t really get married that day. Not officially anyway. In all the rush and excitement we forgot the one bit of paperwork required by the province of BC.
It took a Monday afternoon trip to Nelson, our nearest town at two hours away, and a visit to a marriage registrar to patch that one up.
Another disaster was averted early on Saturday morning when we dispatched Thomas Dworzak, an old friend with a fast car, to pick up the wedding cake which we had ordered but forgotten about. It was a return trip of four hours but he made it in time.
On days before and after the wedding we had more great times – walks among our sleepy giant cedars with bellies full of cider, hikes down half-forgotten mountain trails past roaring brooks, boating on sunny Trout Lake, exotic food, lots of fine wine and singing.
With the wedding behind us – our spring/summer season is now underway. Earlier this week we took out our first mountain tour. With Tim and June we went way up to the snowline where the wildflowers are beginning to bloom.
Penny and Sid from San Diego have also been exploring with us this week.
One of the big changes at the ranch is a major renovation of the Eco-cabin which now has its own environmentally-friendly bathroom, a beautiful new interior, a sundeck and a huge window looking onto the river.
For those of you at the wedding – thank you for making the effort to come all this way. It made for a wonderful occasion that Kristin and I will never forget.
And those of you didn’t – we hope to see you soon. The sun is shining, the bears are out, the river is running blue and it promises to be a gorgeous year here at Grizzly Bear Ranch.