October wedding

Sarah and Paul dancing. Sorry for the blurriness of the photo

Sarah and Paul dancing. Sorry for the blurriness of the photo

 We were in southeastern Tennessee this weekend seeing the wedding of my godson Paul Ashey. Now I remember Paul when he was born nearly 28 years ago. I had just moved to Texas to work for the Houston Chronicle and I stayed with Elise and Mark Ashey – old Lewis & Clark College friends and had stayed with them while searching for housing. Elise was close to term with Paul at that point and Margaret was 2. I remember those days; Paul two years later spending Thanksgiving dinner putting olives on his fingers. And now….he’s doing theater in New York and getting married. And Margaret – who was a bridesmaid – had already been married five years. It’s like seeing time pass in front of you.

The wedding was atop a mountain so to speak in Sewanee, home of the University of the South, which

Paul (middle) and Elizabeth (right) at the head table.

Paul (middle) and Elizabeth (right) at the head table.

is an Episcopal liberal arts college with a seminary down the street. The campus was to die for: all sandstone buildings, bell towers and even a building dedicated to Tennessee Williams surrounded by trees and modeled after Oxford – all near bluffs overlooking the valley below. I got a look at their refectory and that was one nice college cafeteria. Obviously a ton of money behind that place. The wedding was in All Saints chapel, the Gothic church in the middle of the campus and it sure looked like a mini-Washington Cathedral from the inside.

Veeka dancing with Chris Hiller, an old friend from my Houston days and a good friend of the Asheys.

Veeka dancing with Chris Hiller, an old friend from my Houston days and a good friend of the Asheys.

Weddings, by the way, are tough for me for obvious reasons. At this wedding in particular, everyone was dancing except for me as I had no one to dance with. It’s very depressing at times and a huge reason why I rarely go to these fetes. Funny that 10 years ago this month, a friend of mine from BBC got married in London. She and I and another journalist had been part of a trio praying that all of us would find husbands. And she did, at the age of 45. But the other woman and I – who flew to London to see the wedding – never have found anyone. I think she and I are still out there reminding God that two-thirds of those prayers remain unanswered! Before showing up for the wedding, Veeka and I went hiking about South Cumberland State Park, which was a series of trails, ravines, caves and canyons on the Cumberland Plateau. It’s hard not to miss this plateau; while you’re heading south on I-24, you start to ascend this huge ridge of limestone. It’s an odd sort of park as it’s made up of 10 sections scattered about four counties. Veeka and I hiked to one of the better-known spots: a formation known as the Stone Door. After a mile through the woods, we got to the cliffs where this was, only to discover there were no guard rails before one plunged down a 120-foot drop. Naturally I grabbed Veeka’s arm like a maniac and refused to go anywhere near the edge. NOT a place for kids.

FInally on the car. And they didn't fall off.

FInally on the car. And they didn’t fall off.

This weekend, as it turns out, is the beginning of Veeka’s week-long fall break. Long fall breaks are an innovation of the South, I’ve found, as nowhere else seems to have them. We have a few things planned. One thing we did a few weeks ago was go biking at Pinson Mounds State Park, a place of old Indian burial grounds that has paved bike paths – a necessity for Veeka.  We got a bit lost on one, which went through a swamp but ended the day better than we began when we found some pleasant long rides. And I invested in a bike carrier but had the worst time getting it on the car. So I went to a local bike shop, bought something from the owner, then asked him to help me with my carrier! Could not have done it without him, must say.

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