Among the traits in guests I admire most is that something that moves them far from their comfort zone and inspires them to visit this remote part of California. That they additionally choose to stay with me at my little and admittedly out of the way bnb gives them even more credibility in my eyes, of course, but it’s that stepping away from the known world I applaud most.
Say hello to Natalie and family who hale from parts barely known to us city folk and urban types. So remote is their home that it was to a nearby county that Walker Evans and James Agee were sent in the mid-1930s, to document the then not-fully-understood Great Depression and its impact on farmers and great stretches of rural America (google Let Us Now Praise Famous Men or just Walker Evans for more on that).
Times have changed since the 30s of course but I can tell after talking at length with James and Dale (the fathers of the bride and groom) that their world is still a place apart from mine. (It’s a place where most still earn a living miles under the surface of the earth, hammering away at coal…yes, all true.)
And yet. This was Natalie’s dream, to be married in the redwood forest, which she interprets as a symbol of grandeur and strength; a symbol of the priorities she and Justin have in integrating the natural world into their own very modern and now irrevocably related lives.
There were a lot of firsts for this wedding party. For Natalie and Justin, Dale and Tina, and James and Rita there were a ton of firsts — first time in California, first wild-caught salmon dinner, first bread pudding, first dip in a hot tub, probably the first time they’d shared close quarters with a certifiable city-slicker like me, sarcastic jokes included. And they endured it all with brio and calm. (And when they dressed up, well, they cast striking images of sophistication and worldliness, dontcha think?)
Ultimately, everyone who arrives at the bnb deserves a heartfelt welcome and cold drink after, say, an eight hour drive from the Bay or that six hour and possibly delayed flight from O’Hare or Dulles. The effort required to locate me online, organize, and then actually pull into the drive and settle in on the Smith are not taken lightly. Some guests, however, deserve just a wee more props than others for their efforts. Natalie and company, who endured many hours of travel for the simplest and most charming of weddings, take the cake.