June 2009: St. Louis, Missouri: A Wedding So Lovely I Sometimes Was Able to Ignore the Humidity

Back in 1993-1994, Groom worked as a student naturalist at an environmental learning center in Northern Minnesota; during that year, he accrued a passle of friends who have hung together over the years.

One of them, John, got married last weekend in St. Louis. Groom’s first memories of John, back at the environmental ed center in the early 1990’s, were of John trying to teach himself how to play the banjo–specifically, that Kermit the Frog song called “The Rainbow Connection.” For weeks, John worked on a few notes…then would stumble…mutter a curse, and start the #^%#@@# song over again. Rather than throttle John for playing the first measure of “The Rainbow Connection” exactly one kabillion times in a row for three weeks straight, the group of student naturalists decided, through gritted teeth, to view these efforts as part of his eccentric charm.

It’s not clear if John ever mastered a fluent run through of that song–perhaps because he also decided that year to learn to dye yarn and weave so’s he could make a Navajo blanket…which then was relegated to the closet when he decided to learn to tan a deer hide using its own brains.

You get the picture. The point, though, is not that John is all about starts; the point is that John has unending enthusiasm and curiosity and passion and energy. In anything that matters, such as friendship and love, he has consistency and follow-through in tumbling heaps.

For me, personally, one of my favorite memories of John has to do with my own wedding, which took place in 1999 at the very environmental learning center where he and my Groom first met. After the ceremony and a little bingo and some ginormous plates of roast pork, Groom and I danced our way through the reception. Towards the end of the night, when I was a fair bit tired of all the socializing, shoeless because my feet hurt so much, Johnny grabbed me off a chair and turned me slowly around the now-empty dance floor. As we spun, he whispered to me about how awe-inspiring love made public was; he eased me out of my own wedding with a feeling of joy.

It was, therefore, a karmic pleasure to share in John’s own joy this past weekend, when he–now in his early 40’s–celebrated his own wedding. I don’t know his new wife, Jan, very well, but I can say she’s worthy of every bit of John’s delights, and, by God, if he ever starts a Navajo blanket in her presence, she’ll make sure he finishes the thing.

Here’s a little pictorial tour of our wedding-related days in St. Louis:

The student naturalists have grown up and reproduced and now hang out at farmer’s markets. Here Paco, who dotes on little guys, feeds Baby Forest (the son of another student naturalist from back when).

What I really like about this photo is that it illustrates how Groom, some years back, mastered dandling babies on his knee while simultaneously spacing out entirely.

Baby Forest, Mama Ella, and Paco cool off in the wading pool, taking a moment to stare at the sky and wonder if it’s a bird, a plane, or a piece of St. Louis’ gooey butter cake flying overhead.

Dudes, if you ever go to St. Louis, go to Gus’ Pretzel Shop, where you can get a bag of 25 pretzels the size of your palm for $10.00. Yea, I KNOW.

John spies his bride as she walks down the aisle towards him. The look in his eyes of naked adoration and absolute rightness gives me hope for a whole lot of things in the world.

Every ceremony needs a little musical breather in the middle. Them vows can get heavym so it’s good to have some moments when the couple can stand quietly in a clutch.

Baby Forest’s daddy (he has a name, and it is Michael) played and sang, just as he has for nearly all of the crew of original student naturalists when they’ve married.

As with the moment when the groom spies the bride, this picture also encapsulates the best of what a marriage can be–that business of having someone to walk down the path with you, slowly, in dreamy step, while all else falls away.

Even when we’ve made an effort (the kids saw an iron the day of the wedding for the first time in their lives and clamored to know what this new technology was called), we’re pretty much a raggle-taggle family. I like to think it keeps us “approachable.”

Note to everyone: if you’re having a reception, and there are going to be kids there, get about 15 hula hoops. By the way, isn’t Girl’s new St. Louis haircut all cutie-pie on her? We actually took her to an upscale Aveda salon, as a special treat; so imagine my gasp when I went to pay for the cut and was told “Nine dollars, please. Yup. Our kids’ cuts are nine dollars.” GOODBYE, Great Clips, you big, dumb cheez-whiz of a place that charges $15! I’m totally driving back to St. Louis next time Girl needs a trim!!

John’s brother made this cake. AND THREE OTHERS. I’m planning on writing in to the Food Network to get him on one of their cake challenge shows. Like he couldn’t make Pluto out of buttercream for the Disney challenge?

Love this picture. See what I mean that Jan’s a worthy mate?

John took a moment to address all those who had gathered at the reception. There were thanks. There was some speechifying about how he and Jan, some months back, had started focusing on the project of planning their wedding, on the day they visited the park and the gazebo and decided to hold it right there. Then John speechified some more about other projects they’d undertaken a few months back.

Like conceiving a baby.

Just when you’ve thrown a hella good wedding, you realize what will really make the crowd go wild, and it’s called “the reveal of a baby braising inside the bride’s cream-clad oven.”

Okay, MOST of the crowd went wild at their announcment. Paco looks skeptical, doesn’t he? I think he’s worried his Pokemon trading card hours might take a hit if he has yet another baby to follow around and feed.

John was too busy hugging a hundred people to make this photo-op. But here’s part of the original crew of student naturalists (and a few hangers-on),




a living rainbow connection.





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21 responses to “June 2009: St. Louis, Missouri: A Wedding So Lovely I Sometimes Was Able to Ignore the Humidity”

  1. lime Avatar

    i would so have been right there with john because i really want to someday dye my own wool and weave it myself into something nifty. i also want to tan my own deer hide. since i repsect the sanctity of john and jan's love i'd do this in an entirely platonic way.

    oh, and dear psychic sister, my very favorite part of the wedding is when the groom catches his first sight of the bride. at any wedding when all the congregation stands and turns to watch the bride enter i will be the lone person facing the groom waiting to see the look of love and delight that crosses his face.

  2. JohnnyC Avatar

    As said groom, I couldn't be happier about how the whole path has played out.

    Starting with the rainbow connection and wending its way through countless miles of smiles, hugs and tears right up to the moment when I had the immense pleasure of announcing to a gathered throng of loved-ones the gestation of our new wee one, this has been a trail I'd walk infinitely in the company I've been so blessed to keep. That I will now be making that stroll hand in hand with Jan is, as they say, the butter cream on one delectable piece of yumminess.

    The humidity's worth it every now and then, no?


    PS I'm only 38…Until August. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. kmkat Avatar

    Is that the ELC near Finland? Elder Son, now 24, still wears a t-shirt he got there back in the last century, right about when Groom and John were there. What a lovely wedding!

  4. Bob Avatar

    you should have all gotten together and hired a banjo player to play the rainbow connection at the reception.

  5. Jazz Avatar

    Gotta love an outdoor wedding…

  6. Lisa (Jonny's Mommy) Avatar
    Lisa (Jonny’s Mommy)

    That group of friends sounds great. The photos are wonderful.

    And that cake looks divine. Yes, he could totally be on that show and whip some serious buttocks.

    I have no idea how you got out of my reader, but you did. Now you are back.

  7. citizen of the world Avatar
    citizen of the world

    "Who said that every wish
    Would be heard and answered
    When wished on the morning star
    Somebody thought of that
    And someone believed it
    And look what it's done so far."

    I've always had a soft spot in my heart for that song. It's not easy being green. SOunds like a wonderful time.

  8. flutter Avatar

    if you'll excuse me I need to prepare the sheep brains for tanning…

  9. JohnnyC Avatar

    Tanning that hide…
    Long hair and skinny and nowhere near 40.

  10. monica Avatar

    nothing so life-affirming like a wedding! and a baby as a side dish, I love it! Great times I can tell. Good idea the one about the hoolahop rings… :o)

  11. Becky Cazares Avatar
    Becky Cazares

    Ack! Love the pic of you holding Paco on your hip like he's an 8-month old! So sweet!

    And I found my groomy at age 44 so can relate to the "at last I have found you" look in John's eyes throughout all the photos! Sigh!!

  12. Jocelyn Avatar

    JohnnyC–If it meant I could have luscious hair and be skinny, I'd tan a deer hide, too. Great picture you linked to there! Groomy loved it, too.

  13. JohnnyC Avatar

    Yup. I've tanned a couple deer hides since then in hopes that the the old form would come back. No such luck…

    Gotta relive the dream on flickr and in the company of great friends.

  14. phd in yogurtry Avatar
    phd in yogurtry

    I am so driving to St. Louis just for the soft pretzels!

  15. Kylie w Warszawie Avatar
    Kylie w Warszawie

    Beautiful photos! And I'll fly to St. Louis this weekend for some soft pretzels.

  16. Jeni Avatar

    Even when you get sentimental, you find ways to make me giggle, then get all warm and fuzzy as I continue reading. This post was just such a great tribute to your friend and his bride and just a great read, overall!

  17. Pam Avatar

    They tell me babies are much more appreciative than adults of Kermit's Rainbow Connection song! If he gets the idea to to weave a mini baby Navajo blanket he'd better get in quick. No time after the baby's born! Sleep deprivation means you end up not knowing your warp from your weft.Fun post Jocelyn, touching too. Thank you.

  18. Chantal Avatar

    Oh that looks like it was such a wonderful time. It makes me want to attend a wedding. Your family photo is perfect!

  19. Jill Avatar

    Looks like a perfect wedding. Embrace your raggle-taggle-ness. Approachable people are the best kind. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. chelle Avatar

    hehe Yes please stay "approachable" all those people with ironed shirts are soooo intimidating! hehe

    So I am looking at photos and I stop .. WHAAA? She did a wardrobe change at the wedding and didn't tell us why?!?!

    Nope your gorgeous sister ๐Ÿ™‚

    Looks like a fabulous wedding!

  21. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    I wish I'd been there. Oh, wait. I was, kind of, through your eyes. What a delightful wedding with genuine old-fashioned love as the centerpiece instead of the competitive mega-circuses of so many weddings these days.

    The cake looks scrumptious, and I love your family picture. Girl's haircut is darling and worth the trip, especially since you have such wonderful friends there.

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