Places and commitment

This weekend, my family gathered to celebrate a wedding. My cousin Howard married Amanda. Cade — Amanda’s son — participated in the nuptials. Cade was not only the ring bearer. The new family of three read an excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit.

Oh, and the ceremony took place on the banks of the Mulberry River at Turner Bend.

Here’s the groom. He was a gentleman and did not wear the hat during the ceremony.

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I loved his toes tapping on top of his flip-flops as he waited for his family to walk through the tent village.

This is a special place for Howard and Amanda and their friends. They come to play, laugh, sing,and listen to some great music that they make with acoustic instruments. We heard a banjo, a guitar, some bongo drums, and some fine voices making music.

It was fun to watch friends who feel very at home in this setting. Sometimes it was difficult to tell if this could be classified — in a stereotypical manner of speaking — as a “redneck wedding” or a “flower power” wedding straight from Woodstock.

The bride and groom and their friends had taken great pains to ensure the non-outdoorsy guests were reasonably comfortable. Tents sheltered us from brief rain showers. A variety of food and drink were available.

It was a fine mix of “Baptists” and “beer-drinkers.”

I think it meant a lot to Howard and Amanda for those of us who don’t love living on the river to experience a place they love and to see them thrive in the environment. This is an important place for them. It’s central to their lives. Perhaps it’s even a touch-stone for them — to someday remember the commitment they made to each other. Howard even had vows for Cade. We all heard them and respect that commitment.

Someday Howard and Cade may return to the site, just the two of them, and evaluate how far they’ve come and what steps they need to take so their relationship can grow.

The little Mulberry will most likely be around fifty years from now, with Arkansans delighting in her currents, where laughter, music, and the sound of rushing water create a beautiful backdrop for life.

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