Background Switcher (Hidden)

A Zickefoose Wedding

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Of all the rituals we humans carry out, weddings, I think, are the loveliest. Weddings are about promise and hope, about looking forward and believing the best of each other. Weddings celebrate the leap of faith we take when we mingle our fortunes with those of another, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.

Holly and Josh, July 2, 2017

It's no small thing, this making of promises, and we assemble everyone we love around us to witness as we put on ritual costumes and gather ourselves for the big leap. When I'm sitting in a wedding crowd, I scan the people around me as the vows are said, wondering what thoughts are rushing through their minds. For no one can hear two young people take those vows and not think about how those weighty, until-death-do-us-part promises have manifested, or will manifest, in their own lives. I find the whole thing fascinating, bemusing, affecting. But if I ever was, I'm not a wedding weeper now. I just settle back and dig the scene, the slight individual variations on this constant theme of everlasting promise and hope.


My beloved brother Bob Zickefoose and his wife Bonnie were celebrating the union of their daughter Holly with Josh this magical day at the Irvine Estate and House Mountain Inn in Lexington, Virginia. What a place to hold a wedding!! The day was soft and warm, the evening was deliriously cool, dry and beautiful, and a fresh breeze was blowing across the patio and dance floor.

The view went on and on. 
There was no place else you'd want to be, and that's saying something.

All afternoon, I had the immense privilege of watching my three nieces and nephews-in-law wrangle their adorable babies. I was humbled and nostalgic as I witnessed their everyday, every-moment feats of good parenting. To be a toddler's parent is to subjugate oneself to the needs of an often irrational, always adorable small small human.  Here, Christy with Ben.

Josh (my niece Katie's husband) with Simon. 

Melting yet?

Cate (Ben's big sister) watches Max and Will break-dancing, flinging their legs around and under their anchoring hands in a mad buzz-saw circle. Cate, I'm with ya, girl. No doin' the coffee grinder for me, hell to the nope. 

Liam shows how you dance with a baby in a convenient sling. 

I absolutely adore this shot, for its unposed beauty, for the interaction between my niece Courtney and her sweet Charlie; Charlie's dad Tyler leaning in; the smile passing between Cam and Courtney's wee daughter Amy; the smile on my niece Clare's face.  Wow. Hold an iPhone up over your head so you can't even see what you're getting, and see what you get. Sometimes you get a painting.

My sister Nancy boogies with Claire, Cate and Amy. Nancy was not ready to go back to the hotel at 10:30 pm. I love that about her, love watching her get those little girls shaking. 

There were little girls in dresses everywhere I looked. That alone would get me up that mountain.

There would be a few tears, but only a few. There was too much fun to be had!

Cate (Christy and Will's wee girleen) was being noncompliant; not exactly bad but not real good; setting off on her own despite her parents' spoken admonitions. I followed, just to be safe. Finally she turned around to head back to her folks and gave me my favorite shot of the trip.  Fairies are real!!

Yep, I'm bad. But nobody minds. I'm good at it.

 My date for the event was tall, blonde and handsome. I'd waited 17 years for him.

He was worth the wait.

Come over here and let me get your eyes against that smoky Blue Ridge. O beautiful boy!

I could hear the Seldom Scene's sweet tenor harmonies in my head. Blue Ridge...Do you call to all your children like you've been calling me? Blue Ridge...Why are you calling me home?

Ahh, now that makes me weep. Do click on the link. Listen to Jonathan Edwards' and John Duffy's voices fly across the mountains! Let it keep playing for "Wait a Minute." Oh my gosh. Good bluegrass...gets me in the rootsy feels.

Because I am the Science Chimp, it was only  a few minutes before I was summoned in to identify a large moth that had found its way into the dining hall. 

Polyphemus! Huge batty miracle of the Appalachian night. Oh!

I carried it outside--it was like carrying a cool, mechanically flapping bird--and released it. After a few false starts, it warmed its flying muscles sufficiently to rise into the air and circle against the Blue Ridge landscape during the wedding ceremony! Something beautiful, released and joyous. No metaphors there, nope.

And sharp-eyed Max found the first regal moth I'd ever seen under a railing outside, and ran to find me. ZOMG. The little child shall lead us. Woot!!! Bear in mind this thing is about 5" long. 

Well, to be precise, I'd seen a regal moth, but not wearing this fabulous King Clown outfit.

You may recall its weiner-sized caterpillar, the Hickory Horned Devil, from a previous blogpost. 
Click on that link, and you'll get the whole life story of the regal moth, as well as a 2010 vintage pic of the family pickin' pawpaws! It's a classic.

Ooga booga booga! his only defense

Being Science Chimp 1 and Science Chimp 2, Liam and I had to sneak off before dinner and find some wild food. 

Around the edge of the property, wineberries (Rubus phoenicolasius), native to Asia, were competing with native black raspberries (above) for space, and mostly winning.

Exotic or not, the wineberries were absolutely delicious.

Seeing my son in dress clothes slowly reaching through the thorny tangle for berries to feed his skirt-bound mama did a lot for me. Let me just say that skirts and dresses are USELESS. You can't do anything in them. Ugh. I will wear them for a few hours when required. Then it's back to the sturdy boots, pants and socks, which take me through the vegetation unscratched.

These things are GOOD!! Somebody said he looks like Malfoy here. Well he may, but there's not a cruel or evil bone in this boy's body.

Wineberries: for better or for worse, they're definitely winning here. We ate them all ourselves. Yep, we did. And we didn't feel guilty, well not very, because the food we were about to get was so darned delicious. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. We were here not for giant moths, delicious food, or dancing fairies. We were here for Holly and Josh's wedding!

My brother Bob Zickefoose emerges with the bride.

And Josh walks her back into the hall. Everything is changed from this day forward.

And just before that magic moment and a lovely ceremony, Bob's son Aaron and son-in-law Josh K. played and sang some Beatles and Chet Atkins tunes. It was home-made music and it was wonderful to hear "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and "I'll Follow the Sun" in this setting. And then my brother Bob sang a special song for the couple. I believe he borrowed the voice of an angel for the occasion. My updated iPhone always crashes now when I launch the Video function, so I missed the intro.

Bob and our sister Dancin' Nancy. 

Bob played the 1964 vintage Guild he bought when he was Liam's age. It's the only guitar he's ever owned, the only one he says he's ever needed. The fretboard is deeply grooved with use. Three stout screws and some glue hold the long-broken head together. Five more screws keep the bridge one with the guitar's cracked body. But it still keeps true. And true is what my brother is, in word, voice and deed. 

Father-daughter dance.

Late night cousin dances

The five Zickefooses. Barbara, Nancy, Micky, Bob, and me. How lucky can you get, to have such people in your corner?

I made this post for my family, but for you, too, because it was all too beautiful not to share. Here's to new beginnings and children well-raised!


Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing here. And your brother's voice is angelic!

Hey that was wonderful. A nice peek into the Foose clan. Liam has it going on, the girls must be kicking down his door. I like that a Hickory Horned Devil made it into the post too. I have a soft spot for them. We raised one from 2cm to full gorgeous moth when the kids were little.


Well, what can a person say? I wish I had been at this gorgeous wedding. Your story, photos, your brother's beautiful, tender song, the beautiful children and families, the environment, the scientist who is such a romantic. I hope you are working on a book of your wonderful blogs, with photos. Thanks for sharing, Julie. Georgia

Your photos are fab! They came at just the right moment, since while you were basking in the gorgeous, soft beauty of the Blue Ridge, I was reading the next-to-last part of Confederates in Attic, which takes us to Lexington. It was great to open your blog and see, as if made to order, your illustrations of that place where it all ended, or almost ended.

Even your posts when you're sad and angry about something (always with good reason) are beautiful. What a joy that you had such a joyous event for this beautiful post. Thank you.

What a wonderful, enjoyable set of photos of such a special day. Your handsome son and that too adorable Cate....the fairy special indeed! Never saw wineberries before or those giant moths.....all I get here in West Hollywood are annoying little seed moths that come with the tons of birdseed for! Enjoyed the song too. What a divine day! And you captured it beautifully ....ahhh the memories!

A pleasure to read this joyous post. A coincidence: I believe I saw my first Polyphemus (dead) yesterday evening outside a store here on the Olympic Peninsula in WA. I wondered what kind of moth it was (so big!). Thank you for clearing that up within 24 hours!

Awesome vintage guitar! Congratulations, and blessings for life together!

[Back to Top]