This weekend we went to the kind of Island wedding where you get to visit with literally everyone and their mom. I love these events and they are too few and far between. Though in many ways, our community is much more tight-knit than many others in this day and age, both by the necessity of living on an island, and by the choice of like-minded folks coming together, there are only a few gatherings a year when most of us truly are in one place.
Sure there are gatherings of different individual factions all the time: friends, bands, contra dancers, quilters, young families, drinking buddies, carvers, farmers, old fogeys, medicine makers, language classes, movie nighters, knitters, mbira players, wealthy charity ladies, poker sharks, singing groups, and just about any other group of folk you could imagine living on a small island in the Pacific, will regularly and irregularly hang out in all sorts of constellations. There are parties and get-togethers and retreats and just plain old dinner parties all the damn time (a frequent joyous gripe of mine-too much of a good thing), but our community at large, people of all ages and niches, rarely get to all come together.
That said, we do have a few steady annual celebrations, including the Solstices, Graduation, the Barn Dance, the community Thanksgiving, where we all gather together, everyone (and their mom) from close friends to acquaintances.
Just as often though, the celebrations of individual lives, the weddings, the baby circles, and sadly, sometimes memorials, are where we get to really visit with all of our friends and neighbors.
It's these events that often remind us how wonderful being part of a community really is. Standing on a lawn under August stars with people who know, if not all of you, then enough about to ask about your family, your life, how you've been, who are happy to see you and who care enough to welcome you with a hug.
When we celebrate our graduates, the babies that are going to be born, the kids that are growing and someday, like last Saturday, starting families of their own, we also celebrate ourselves.
The setting is almost always the same, only the starring parts get redistributed. There are kids running around in various stages of fancy dress and dirtiness. There is food and drink and unpredictable conversations, with random people you haven't seen in a coons age (about a month). There are moms, and grandmothers, and grandpas, and aunties, and cousins, and brothers, and sisters-by-another-mother.
There are usually memories of the beautiful bride, or the blushing groom, or the handsome young graduate, as a toddling child, or a teenage terror.
And there are equally memories of the elders as very, very wild young men and women, of adventures, and farms, and unions and separations, and businesses and homesteads long gone, of good fishing years and bad harvests and escaped pigs. And then there are plans for the future of adventures, and farms, and businesses, and homesteads, and harvests and pigs too...
And always, there is music and singing and dancing.
We put on our good duds, the dancing shoes mandated by the invitation. We ride our bikes in the golden shimmer of the August dusk with potluck dishes and beverages rattling in our baskets. We watch the Perseids meteor shower rain down above the laughing bride and listen to the waves on the beach below us. We do-si-do-e with older gentlemen and twirl with the little girls. We ask our neighbors how the heck they're doing. We have spirited conversations and laugh our heads off.
Together, we have a mighty good time.