By The Chocolate Bayou


Scenic Camp Mohawk

On Sunday, we took the kids exploring the trails of Camp Mohawk. The weather was nice, and we found sticks, rocks, wildflowers and pinecones. Bren and Preslea climbed trees, got muddy, and were free to yell and run. We all smelled like sunshine when we got in the car to come home. Happiness achieved.

A Shadow of Fear


“What you doin Mama?” Bren said as I saw his shadow pass me on the sidewalk. I’m making a drawing for you, come see.”
His shadow passed on going toward his papa who was fiddling with the stroller, and I finished up.

When I looked up he wasn’t there.

“Hey, Chris, Where’s Bren?” “I don’t know. He was with you!”

Escalating panic rose in my throat. No blond bob in sight. I asked a boy skateboarding, “Did you see a small blond boy?” “No.” Chris ran towards a honking horn. It came from the direction of the store where Bren loves to look at the toys. I saw an emergency responder. “Have you seen a small boy,” I asked the men in the truck. No, was the answer. Escalating panic became full born hysteria.

“BREN!!!!” I walked the direction I saw his shadow go. I told myself to calm down, make my voices sound playful, so if he heard me he’d come running to play.
“Where’s Breeeenn?” I called. No response.

A jogger ran past me, as I yelled his name again. She gave me a concerned look. I saw a young girl on a pink bike. My heart was racing. I could hear the frantic edge creep back into my voice.

My son was not there, not even his shadow.

How long had it been? He was just right here. I turned a corner, as horrific images ran through my mind. And there.

Sitting. On the grass. Under the bridge was my son.

He looked up at me and smiled. Then he waved. “A squirrel!” he said and pointed and ran towards it. Panic seized me for one more moment. But no, he stopped.

Walking carefully towards him, as if he were a skiddish squirrel himself, I came near enough to sweep him up and hug him. Tightly.

I felt like puking and dancing and laughing and crying.

Since then, I haven’t taken my eyes off him for even a moment.

On a Cold Day in June


Around these parts, the month of June is as fickle as newly pubescent love.
One day, she will flirt with promises of summer and her deep blue skies.
The next day, she’s gone cold and chilly with gray punishing winds.
As inconstant as Romeo to his Rosaline, we never know from day-to-day,
If June will bring us picnics and sunshine or rain boots and sweaters.
Her capricious moods match our own as we sing or shiver in response.
So we pack our bags with extra gear, wondering if June will be herself today.
And though we’d like to give her our loyalty, to prove we will stand by her,
We are disposed, by instability, to long for the maturity of July’s warmth.

Wedding Day Memoir


The alarm was set to go off at 7 am. I woke before and waited breathless, just trying to envelop myself in a few more minutes of rest and peace before the day began. Then, as the wake up alert started chiming, I bound out of bed with a big grin on my face. It was our wedding day, one year ago, today.

We had a plan for the morning. We were to meet up at 9 am and take all decorations out to the event site, Valcour Verandas. It was a DIY wedding, and we were scheduled to begin set up at 10 am. However, that morning as I eagerly put my bag together for the day and night event, I called my fiancée and I could just hear in his voice and my heart that I would have to adjust my plans. I explained to my mother that I was going out to the beach house were he was staying with our out of town guest and picking up my husband to be, and that I would have to meet her there.
“But you aren’t supposed to see each other before the wedding!” she exclaimed.
“Well, Mom,” I said sighing, “We are not really supposed to kind of people.”
And with that I drove off in my silver chariot to claim my sweetheart on the day of our wedding.

I don’t suppose it hurt our luck any. The day unfolded exactly as it was meant to. And I’m not ashamed to say, we spent the morning of our wedding having premarital sex. My intuition and my heart told me it was right and that the strongest type of faith and belief. We made it to Valcour on time and with a perk in our step.
From flowers, to signage, to chairs, to hundreds of crystals dangling from trees around the property, everyone turned out to help set up. Many hands make light work. My aunts, Donna and Sydney, helped spearhead the organization of everything and I couldn’t be more grateful for their help.

Around noon, we all retired to our private quarters to begin getting ourselves ready for the event, scheduled to begin at 3 pm. Chris had his own room inside with his boys. From what he says they spent a lot of time communicating through nods and grunts. When I asked Chris if he could add any more to this account, he said, “That is about it!” and laughed.
Chris best man Adam, was solid through their time. When Chris asked just before the ceremony, “Should we run for the hills?” Adam just sniffed, looked at him and said, “Nah.” Which triggered an immediate sweat response from Chris.
Our good friend and photographer, brought her husband Mike, who gave some sage advice and really helped Chris stay calm through all the photos, “Just rub your cheeks,” he told him. Mike also said, “Everyone worries about how the woman is doing, and that’s why I am here for you.” And to help Chris with a little perspective on the day, he said, “You know, there are two times when people gather to celebrate you: your wedding day and your funeral. At least you’ll be there for one. So enjoy it as much as you can.”
All of the guys were a great relief, comedic and otherwise for Chris. They really all pitched in and helped us through-out our wedding weekend.

Photo credit: Scott Nidermaier & Christine Tremoulet
Over in the bride’s camp, there was less sage advice and more curling irons and perfume. We laughed and helped each other with all the accouterments of beauty. I didn’t feel terribly nervous. I felt that I had plenty of time. So, I helped Liz to go over her part of the ceremony and read through my vows.

Photo credit: Christine Tremoulet
An hour before the wedding, we decided to do a short informal photo shoot with Chris and I. It was a sweet moment we shared before the hub-bub began. All the flowers were passed out, everything was set up and then guests began arriving.

Moments before I was to walk down the aisle, my father and I stood in the cool shade of a large bush. Mom walked by and Christine caught a photos of the three of us.

At that moment, for my Dad, it was the tipping point. Mom scurried off to do what she was doing and Dad began to weep. He’ll be embarrassed that I am pointing this out. His worse fear about the wedding is that he would break down and sob uncontrollably. We had to take a few moments. After, a minute or two, where Dad tried to pull it together, Christine told her “brown chicken, brown cow” joke and the tension resolved into laughter. It was really sweet and it is one that I’ll cherish in my heart forever.

Then it was time. For the bridesmaid and bridal processional we chose the Vitamin String Quartet, “I’m Yours” (originally by Jason Mraz) and “Hallelujah” (originally by Jeff Buckley) respectively. I was pretty nervous at this point. Stage fright! In fact, my poor niece Payten, who’d been promised a sack of candy for walking down the aisle balked when it was time for her to walk. So, I encourage Liz, my maid of honor to walk with her. Looking back, if I’d been less nervous myself I would have just told Payten she didn’t have to walk and that she could sit with her mom and dad. But she was adorable in her white dress and the two of them walked down the aisle together.

Chris and Adam waited to the left of our officiant, Johnny Vasut. He said he was sweating so profusely he was afraid he would be a puddle by the time I got to him. But I couldn’t tell. All I could see was love.

Chris was so nervous that after my Dad hugged him and put my hand in his, he kissed me, just a bit sooner than he was supposed to. After our parents stood together and blessed our marriage, my maid-of-honor, Liz read the first reading.
“Understand, I’ll slip quietly
Away from the noisy crowd
When I see the pale
Stars rising, blooming over the oaks.
I’ll pursue solitary pathways
Through the pale twilit meadows,
With only this one dream:
You come too.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Then our officiant explained the definition of marriage. And after we both promised to “love and comfort each other, honor and keep each other, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others keep ourselves only unto each other as long as we both shall live,” we began the vows we collaborated on together.
I promise to be patient, avoid jealousy and arrogance. I promise not to provoke arguments or take account of every wrong suffered. I promise to rejoice in the truth that is our love. With your hand in mine, I promise to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and endure all things.
When I was a child I spoke as a child. I do not enter this marriage with childish reason. I put those thoughts aside to become your husband/wife. As your husband/wife, I promise to sow love where there is hatred. Pardon, where there is injury. Faith, where there is doubt. Hope, where there is despair. Light, where there is darkness. Joy where there is sadness.
With God’s love and your partnership, I promise to console rather than be consoled. Understand, rather than be understood. Love, rather than to be loved. For I understand that it is in giving that I receive. These things I pledge to you as I become your husband/wife.
Lord, help make us an instrument of your peace as we go forth together. Help us stand strong in faith, hope and charity; but most of all–Love. “

Then Adam, the best-man, did the second reading.
“We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us, but if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong.
Why is this? Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness.
It isn’t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems–he ones that make you truly who you are–that you’re ready to find a life-long mate.
You’re looking for the wrong person. But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person–someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, ‘This is the problem I want to have.’”
~ Andrew Boyd
Next, we exchanged rings “I give you this ring to wear with love and joy. As a ring has no end, neither shall my love for you. I choose you to be my wife/husband this day and forevermore.” And we all prayed together. And finally, we were pronounced husband and wife and we sealed it with a kiss.

We exited to Plainsong by The Cure. It was a tremendously happy moment for us, both from the relief of being done with the ceremony and for it finally being official.

The reception was held at the same site. We had small foods inside, along with punch, wine and beer. We set up a children’s area outside because there were a lot of children at the wedding. It was under a small tent with balloon. We made sure they had plenty of crayon and games to keep them occupied, though Chris’ nephews had more fun finding lizards and bugs.
We took the family group photos while the guests were invited inside to begin eating.

The photos took quite a bit of time, because of the size of our families. But I’m really glad to have these photos of everyone. Chris was getting twitchy by the end, but we made it through. Finally, we were released to do as we please and I walked around and spoke with the people who were eating on the lawn. Then everyone gathered inside and we did a showing this photo video I put together of Chris and I and our lives so far.

Big Sky Lonestar – This Is Us from Sydney Markle on Vimeo.

Next, we did the cake cutting, well sort of. We had cupcakes and the cutting cake that was supposed to go on top met an unfortunate end before the ceremony even began. So, we improvised, each taking a bite out of the same cupcake.

The cupcakes were really delicious. We had four different flavors. Payten had a hard time deciding which one she wanted.

Then we moved to the front veranda, and Chris and I had our first dance to the song, “Bound to be Mountains” by Rachel Garlin.

“A slice of cake a ring around your finger
Baby we can dance right down the aisle
We filled our summer with commitments
So I’ve dreamed about ours for a while
Baby there are bound to be some mountains
Bound to be some boulders in the road
Sometimes the sunshine dresses up in clouds of dust
But I don’t love you only when love is surrounding us
I don’t love you only when love is surrounding us
Sometimes I wish you’d missed being a witness
To their parents picking seeds in the back room
Letters from their loved one who denied their kiss
Just remember there were also tears of joy
Baby there are bound to be some mountains
Bound to be some boulders in the road
Sometimes the sunshine dresses up in clouds of dust
But I don’t love you only when love is surrounding us
I don’t love you only when love is surrounding us
Take me to the land of wood and water
Take me to the town where you were born
Lead to the place where we can trace your first steps
And leave some of our sadness on the shore
Baby there are bound to be some mountains
Bound to be some boulders in the road
Sometimes the sunshine dresses up in clouds of dust
But I don’t love you only when love is surrounding us
I don’t love you only when love is surrounding us”
Which was followed by more dancing.

Then things got competitive. It was time for the garter and bouquet toss. Now, the girls were fairly subdued when it came to the bouquet.

Though I did have a surprise break-apart bouquet meaning three of them caught flowers. Plus, I stuff them with lottery tickets. This may have ratcheted up the value of the garter for the boys, because it turned into a rugby match.

The day flew by. Everyone always says it seems like a blur, but it really did. I don’t feel like I got to talk to everyone and it was all over much too quickly. It was so much fun, but it was time to leave.

But that’s not quite the end of the day, because we did get to have a casual post reception get together with our out-of-town guests back at the beach house. Where we got to act like newlyweds and gross out our friends.

It was a day I’ll never forget and I’m so grateful that I met and married the man of my dreams. We’ve been married one year today, and we have a son on the way. Chris and I both agreed that we felt the same, but different, after we got married. We’d already made the commitment to each other before we agreed to marry, but after making our vows in front of family and friends we felt more at peace and solid. Chris also said he had an unexpected feeling of pride in being my husband. And I’d agree, I never thought it would matter that much, but it is a sweet feeling to call him husband.

We begin and end with conversation, and that keeps our love strong. We’ve tried to keep our vows starting each day fresh. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of keeping accounts of every perceived wrong. But that’s not us, and not the way we participate in our marriage. I’m a lucky woman. And now, we get to grow our love and share it with another human being, with our son.
Here’s to another year, and many more my dear. I love you Chris. Happy anniversary.