Ramblings from the Cove...

December 2017 (The Gent Wedding)

By Lars Gren

It was not until I was well into the flight from Boston to San Francisco that I realized, perhaps as ice caps melt, a country may increase in width. Although Elisabeth and I had many similar non-stop flights, none seemed as long as this one. Then as we began to descend I thought that we may not make estimated arrival time. We touched down, flaps up, hard brakes, whining of engines and sure enough, not much time and I was a bit late. I’ll have to make a dash for it! Then I heard, “Folks, there is an outgoing flight in our bay but it should be out soon and clear for us shortly. Gate is available now and we are waiting for the pushback to bring us in.” It was one of the few times that as soon as it was announced that we could deplane I was in the aisle and ‘movin’on’. I hit that jetway double time--left, right left right until I reached the desk panting and said “Flight to Arcata/Eureka please.” “That’s at gate eight and hurry, you’ll make it--they never leave on time.” As I approached the counter, the door was still open and I gave my boarding pass to the attendant who said it was about to take off but thought I could make it. She called out to the agent at the door, “Is the Arcata flight still loading? Oh, they left? Funny they are never in time.” “Might there be a seat for me on a later flight?” “Sorry, no, that was last one for today but I can get you on the 9:30 am. Would that work?” “Yes, thank you.” I resigned myself to a night at the airport. How bad can that be for only 10-12 hours? I was not going off to the streets of ‘San Fran’ looking for a hotel, when the attendant said, “Just go down to Ann by the desk at gate 10 and she will take good care of you, but be back here no later than 7:30 for your flight.” “I’ll get back by 7:00 am.” “Good.” She did, for sure, take care of me. First class hotel—including a bus there and return plus meal coupons for the hotel and the airport, for not two but four meals. Now how sweet is that! It was an easy check-in and as I started to leave I asked, “Which way to the dining room?” “Just down the hall on your right.” “Great. Sure will enjoy a meal.” “Sorry it closed at 9.” Ok, Lars, up to the room and enjoy it, watch the news and get a good rest. I did. In a spacious, clean room, a quiet night, early up, checked out with, “Thank you and where is the breakfast room?” “Just at the end of the hall.” “Thank you.” “They open at 9.” “Oh. Good-bye bacon and eggs.” At last the bus arrived at the terminal with just enough time to convince the lady in the sandwich shop that my coupon was legitimate and so I walked away with my first meal—avocado with hummus on a roll. It took a bit of time but when I reached the gate, the lady who had taken care of me the day before was there and recognized me. “Oh, I’m glad to see you. We’re loading and you need to get on.” I thanked her and at last I was able to sit down in a seat and enjoyed a quick take-off for Arcata, my destination, prior to any other problem.

It’s the first experience I’ve had of flying over the redwood forest area, which to me had a sort of “other-world appearance.” My idea of the redwood forest was trees as we have where you can see the ground and they are spaced out. These impressive trees were, “cheek by jowl” with each other, some attaining the height of over 300 ft. The flight was short and it was not long before we were landing at a very small airport, pretty much one building. As I approached the building, I could see 4 people through the window standing, looking at me and waving. When I went through the doors they gave me a big welcome and I said, “I think if I were in your shoes, I’d say, ‘Lars, good to see you but please turn around and head back where you came from”. But, instead of that, they welcomed me and said they thought that I would be on this flight. They had driven there the night before expecting me to be on the flight but not knowing for sure. On not seeing me they asked the baggage man if he could check to see if anyone had left luggage to find out if I had been on the plane or not, but he could not do so because of rules and regulations. However, he dropped a claim check so that they could come into the restricted area in order to search for my luggage, which they found, and which confirmed for them that I had been on the flight. That gave them the confidence that I was indeed coming and they would be there the next morning to pick me up. I had not telephoned them. You will ask—“Why?” Very simple—their phone number was in the suitcase. I had no phone numbers in my pocket in order to call. Elisabeth might say, “Darlin, is that the Department of Clear Thinking?” It’s not, but unfortunately it’s not the only time I’ve done a dumb thing. Part of the reason is that I do not have helpers to pack and be sure I have taken this and that and I have been dependent too long on such help. The roundtrip drive between the airport and their home is about 60 miles. Knowing this did not bring peace to the fact that a telephone call would have avoided it all. Not only the Gents, but also Steve and Cathy Schlerf (who were hosting me for a number of days) were also in the car. So for 4 people it was a valiant thing to do. Prior to this I had asked them if there wasn’t a bus I could take, but they laughed and said, “Not in this part of the country.”

It was less than a week before the wedding day. I should add that we knew the Gents from meeting in CA and also for their visiting us a couple of times at the Cove. Between my arrival and the wedding I learned a bit about the Gent’s life. Patricia’s husband Michael was born in England still works for a company which brought him to the States to work in California. Recently he retired and in all those years has remained a British citizen. I did wonder a bit why someone would do this, but had not the nerve to ask. And of course, he is not against the US, but his roots are back in the Old Country. Patricia’s ancestry is also British by blood, US citizen by birth. In fact, her ancestry goes back to the early days of colonization when in the 1600s a relative, Henry Dana settled in Southern California and seeing the valuable land, acquired large tracts of land from north to southern California. Most of you would recognize the name Dana Point. Well, Mr. Dana was one of her early ancestors. I found it interesting to search internet or as I say, “Ask Google” for Richard Henry Dana Jr. and learned that he is the author of the classic, “Two Years before the Mast.” On a recent trip to San Antonio, Patricia told me of going to the Alamo where yes, a relative James Bowie lost his life. It is what one might term “an auspicious blood line.” I can’t counter with much for I am the first born citizen of the Gren line—at least in my father’s direct line and since I have no issue---well that’s the end of the line and not much to put into print.

The wedding day came with weather that only an Englishman would enjoy with a ‘stiff upper lip’ and say, “Oh I say, lovely day eh?” and I’d say “hmmm?” Bit of a wind, cool to cold, now and then and a few drops or drizzle. There were an anticipated 300 guests coming. The house of course, could not hold that many, so it was to be an outdoor wedding. The only place that would fit all of us, really, was part of a pasture, which had been mown and the cattle had been moved out of sight to another pasture. The guests were homeschoolers, perhaps not 100%, but very close to that, and the common practice for the group when a wedding or such was in the making, was that the host would prepare a menu. These menus were distributed to all those in the home school that were coming. They were then to select two dishes from the menu to prepare and bring to the wedding. The only portion that was not prepared by the group was the cakes and those were supplied by one woman, whose signature work was cake baking--homemade!

As the time approached and guests took their seats, music was offered by members of the wedding party. The groomsmen entered, most of them not Americans (the giveaway being European clothing and all wearing the typical, Six Pence Cap). Groomsmen with bridesmaids on the arm took their places. Then Joseph and the best man waited as Hannah and her father walked down the ‘path’ to the manmade chapel arch. Then, Mr. Gent became the pastor and then faced the pair and gave the charge and message to Joseph and Hannah, uniting them in the sacrament of marriage.

Joseph is from the Netherlands, having met Hannah at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA in the Solid Rock Christian fellowship group on campus. He and his friends and other guests lent to the European flavor that I sensed. At the end of the ceremony there was a mingling of folks until the food was served and then for those staying on to be seated at round tables set for 8 or 10.

The setup in the pasture was impressive with six foot serving tables for guests, set as one would do in a dining room with a central table under cover for the cake and goodies for self-serve. On each table was a centerpiece of flowers arranged in unique redwood planter boxes made by Joseph. Also, previously purchased, were 300 teacups--after all ‘a cuppa’ is a necessity at such a gathering. They were cups procured from antique or specialty shops. Let’s just say it was no five and dime store cup! At the end of the event guests were invited to receive the tea cup as a reminder of the day.

Until the official start I spent my time trying to stay warm—yes I had guessed wrong on northern CA weather in June plus I had no hat on my head. The helpers were busy bringing a variety of things from the kitchen and I thought, “Ah, the kitchen, it will be warm and I’ll pop in there and find a spot out of the way.” A poster on the wall met me: “Only assigned helper’s allowed in the kitchen.” Foiled again.

By this time the guests were at table and as I watched the various dishes and juices brought out, I realized from my catering days that they were understaffed, so I opened the door and asked if I might be of help? “Yes, thank you.” Not only did the warmth help, but also someone stuck a hat on my head for the mist was falling.

Gent WeddingYours truly, made two mistakes in the two close-together weddings. The first wedding was Texas in June and I thought that it would be warm so I just took a couple of sweaters with me—I borrowed a good jacket and wore it every day in Texas. When I was heading for the June wedding in California, I thought northern California in June would be mild. Needless to say I was wrong, and I wore my host’s, Mr. Schlerf’s heavy-duty work jacket for the entire time there. To add to the discomfort, the weather for the wedding was typically British—little sun, cloudy skies, light rain, off and on, and I did have to borrow a coat, and I already mentioned how I got a hat. No problem for the Britishers—they love that kind of weather but I was thoroughly unprepared to accept it—to no avail.

At the proper time I joined the others for the traditional send off to the newlyweds, but not with rose petals as it was in an earlier attended wedding in Oxford, England. Here we had small jars of liquid passed about with a gadget so as bubbles, blown into the air, drifted down around the happy couple as they ran through towards their get-a-way plan. After a bit, I joined my hostess, Kathy, and she anticipated my words, “Ready to go?” “Yes, ready.” We bid good-bye and thanked the Gents and headed for the home of the Schlerf‘s who were my hosts for my time there. Steve, Cathy and Stephanie plus Jack, her lovable horse. No I did not ride him but made friends and fed him a few apples which he enjoyed. When he is within the backyard he will try to place his two legs up on the porch and stick his head in, if the Dutch door is open, hoping I guess for a gift.

God bless y’all and that’s it from the Cove,

Lars


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