Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary. It was a beautiful wedding, but today I’m not thinking about that. What I am remembering, with longing, is the week spent with women who had flown in from all over the world to stay in a tiny 100 year old Norwegian cabin in the valley below our farm.
A cabin full of wine and laughter was the least I could provide for those girls, who had been swept into a full scale Wisconsin ridgetop wedding. In case you’ve never been involved with one of these, let me tell you a couple things. They’re large- we had at least 250 people at our mass and the reception in the pole shed turned ballroom- and they involve lots (and lots, and lots) of work.
For instance, we grew the food for the wedding. The morning of the wedding, I was in the field picking lettuce early in the morning and headed off to top strawberries before donning my bridal gown…
But before all that, we raised the chickens. Then, just after my bridesmaids arrived, we butchered them. So romantic!
After photographing the King brothers at work butchering chickens last week, I have been thinking a lot about our bridal butchering party. Granted, it was quite a bit more chaotic than the serene process at Freedom Farms. Our knives were dull, our crew was inexperienced, and I may have been a bit out of practice myself. Still, this is still my favorite photo of my engagement ring.
The chickens were plucked and cleaned and cooled and eventually cooked and served, but in the meantime there were flowers to pick. This meant a month of picking and wrapping peonies, storing them in newspaper to save them for late June. It also meant a trip deep into Amish country…
where an abandoned kitchen garden ran riot, with hundreds of roses and a profusion of other blooms that needed to be gathered.
I have rarely felt as free and deeply happy as I did that morning, gathering flowers with great friends.
Back at the pole shed, there were lights and banners to hang, and ladders to climb.
It took some power washing, the remover of a rotochopper, and about 10 people working 12 hours a day…
but by the night before the wedding, the pole shed looked fantastic. I think that if I could time travel, that is where I would return, with a cold beer in hand, to spend another evening with Julia, Maqui, Susannah, Lisa, Adrienne, Emily, my siblings, and the rest of the hardworking crew who made our homegrown ridgetop wedding so beautiful. It wouldn’t have happened without all of them, and I am more grateful than words can say.
For pictures of the wedding, see this post: