I’m not sure when it happened the first time, probably when April was in High School, but maybe even before that. I was introduced to someone and they got this “Ah Ha” look on their face and said, “Oh, you’re April Barreca’s father.” It was a little shocking at first. You get to be a certain age and figure that you’ve done some stuff that you deserve some recognition for, but it turns out that your daughter is getting the recognition, and you are an accessory. But with a little afterthought, maybe it’s the coolest thing. Your daughter is already more famous than you will ever be. The torch has been passed. You can relax a little. So it’s with a little bit longer view that I look at August 2013. That was the month that April Barreca married Tony Houston, one of the most significant events in her life and the history of the family as a whole; right up there with “Sweet” baby James being born this spring.
It has been a very hot summer. With a little water, everything in the garden and the vineyard is doing great. We can talk about that next month. We have been having corn fritters and peaches for breakfast often. Cheryl has filled the house with the smell of roasting peppers once already. The nets are up on the grapes. Our neighbors, the Hermans at Cliffside Orchards, contributed a box of peaches for the wedding. other neighbors, the Cabrals, brought wine from their grapes at Neanderthal Vineyards. It is a very good year.
For food that is. Technology on the other hand has been a headache all month. Crashed websites, lost domain names, car repairs… I even ran out of gas in the car. Twice. All of these problems have been solved. They will be forgotten. What will be remembered are the people events. Maybe reviewing and writing about history distances you from the day-to-day stuff. A few days ago I had my workspace covered in pictures that my mother saved from her childhood. They included some pets and buildings and views of the water, but mostly they were of people. The same people growing up, standing close to each other, smiling and often not smiling. My job will be to tell the story of those people, what they meant to each other and what they were like in good times and bad.
On the wedding trip, Cheryl and I got the chance to camp out in our VW van. We even scrubbed it clean first. It carried a lot of food and flowers going over to the wedding at Wellspring, a “Woodland Spa at Mount Rainier” according to their website. We pulled into Dog Lake campground near the top of White Pass on Thursday the 22nd, two nights before the wedding. This guy came running out of one of the campsites yelling at us to keep moving and stay out of the camping area. It turned out to be Greg Mohr, an old friend from Colville, who was getting ready to hike to some alpine lakes. He and his wife Christine Wilson were camping with an old friend, Brad and his twin daughters. We brought out some wine and swapped stories. It was a good start.
Being close to our destination, we took time to tour Mt Rainier National Park Friday on our way to Wellspring. A lot of love and work has gone into this National Park. If you get a chance to take route 706 through there, be sure to stop at Box Canyon, Reflection Lake and Paradise Lodge. Lots of people were doing just that on this beautiful weekend, but it wasn’t hard to get away up a trail and take in the views, or pick some huckleberries.
When we got to Wellspring, we were immediately surrounded by friends and relatives. Some of them were new relatives on Tony’s side from Ohio and Pittsburg, PA. It was a little overwhelming and hard to concentrate on getting prepared for the next day or even that night. There were just family and the very closest of friends there Friday night. But the Barrecas are a big family. Tony Houston’s parents and siblings came out from Ohio as well. And there were a lot of other folks there with key parts in the wedding to come. We had a big potluck meal on a lawn by a gazebo. Later the family band, “Inlaws and Outlaws”, got going and played through the night till the curfew on loud music at 10 PM. The blood blisters on my fingers are finally dried up but still there. Great jam session.
There is a lot that goes on at a wedding. April seemed to have just about everything either delegated out directly or through her friend and ace wedding director, Susan Brady. Cheryl brought flowers and made a tiramisu dessert. I brought a couple cases of wine, but other people brought wine too. There was plenty. We had a rehearsal in the morning and preparations up to the last minute. There were lots ofphotographers and the pictures are still being assembled, but you can check some out on Flicker and Facebook. (See the links at the bottom of this blog.) Flower girls, “the dress”, Mary Selecky officiating at the service; Joseph Barreca Sr giving the blessing; Joseph Barreca Jr giving a short – well maybe not short enough – history of April’s travels and where all these friends came from; Bill Yake reading a poem he wrote for the occasion; Matthew Yake and Liza Reitz playing music for the ceremony; Gail Blumberg and Tony’s brother Jon handling not-always-so-sweet baby James, Bina making lots of jam and writing her own poem, taking photos and decorating… There was a lot going on, and that was just the ceremony.
Then we started in on the wine and the catered appetizers, moved on tothe dinner of salmon or brisket, had some great toasts from T-No, another “Ohio Boy” besides the groom, Tony Houston and several others. Moved on to tables full of desserts and then to live music from a great little band, the Erev Rav into the night. I said at my wedding that “You don’t just marry one person.” That was certainly true here. Everyone from both families and lots of friends were involved and will be for the rest of our lives. April and Tony generously rented the whole resort with its assorted buildings, hot tubs, trails and chapel in the woods. They assigned quarters to family and friends with a lot of insight into what they would need. Wellspring has a limit of 200 guests and that’s how many April and Tony invited, actually wishing they could invite more. I’ve never seen such a large group work and play so well together. It was a very special occasion and a perfect example of why a lot of people will always know me as April’s Father.
We got a couple more rare chances to visit with my daughter Bina’s father and mother-in-law, Jim and Dorothy Brock and then Bina and her family, Joe, Ovid and Nala Brock the next week. We had a good time comparing notes on our mutual children’s family with Jim and Dorothy. Their journey went 4025 miles in 13 days from Colorado through Washington into Canada and back. I can understand why they were eager to get home and glad they could stop by.
Seeing Bina and her family was also wonderful. It is amazing how much kids change as they grow up. I’m really getting to appreciate how much work it takes to keep up with them and how much energy they have for enjoying life. Ovid’s little insights like “the bubbles are dancing on my tongue” about an Italian Orange Soda or “It’s shaped like an ice cream cone” about pears we were picking together, were priceless. Nala’s exuberance just running around (preferably naked) was wild. Joe Brock and I shared some guy time working on the 1969 VW Bug that he’s lending me. Bina made sure the essentials for food, water and shelter were being maintained while carrying on whatever conversation was at hand. It was a great visit while they were here and very quiet after they left.
The month had one sad note as an old friend, Dave Wingate, AKA Rainbow Flute, died on August 16th. He really hadn’t been himself the last few years after a car accident and head trauma, a stroke and complications, so in a way it was a blessing. His ex-wife, Marcia, wrote a touching obituary that ran in the local paper. You can click on his picture to read it. Marriage, young kids, old friends living and passing away. It goes on all around us. We are all in it together.