You can take the girl out of the Pacific Northwest…

Mercy and I went to a wedding on Saturday. Doug was there too but since he was doing the music, Mercy and I were on our own until the end of the ceremony. It was outdoors (as so many Southern California weddings are, of course) in a beautiful setting filled with flowers and fountains. I was pretty hopeful that I might actually be able to participate in a bulk of the ceremony due to the large number of appealing distractions available to my daughter.

She wore the sweet little Easter dress my mom had given to her, and we were probably there for five minutes (we lasted about three minutes in our chairs) before she found a little sprinkler head in the back that was filled with some pooled water where she could shove a bunch of dirt and leaves and stir with a stick: “I’m making soup!” she told me. I hadn’t seen that there was water inside it, and it wasn’t too long before she had wiped now muddy hands down the front of her dress. I found a drinking fountain for us to use to wash her hands (all of this during the processional), and her captivation with “Princess Sarah” the bride lasted about thirty seconds. The leaves and rocks in a nearby flowerbed, however, proved much more intriguing. In a matter of minutes we were back to the drinking fountain for another hand wash.

As we passed the back row, I noticed another mom (pregnant like myself) with a little girl about Mercy’s age seated quietly in a chair next to her. That girl looked impeccable, and nothing about that changed for the duration of the ceremony (unlike my little wood nymph). I have often marveled at these girls who sit sweetly and quietly through church services, funerals or weddings. Or little girls whose dresses and shoes and hair ribbons always remain in place. That has never been my little girl. She will find dirt and water in ANY kind of environment, and immerse herself in both. I suppose this is mostly our fault. We have always allowed her to get dirty when she plays. In fact, when Lauren first started babysitting for us I would send them out the door to the park or our driveway or wherever with this admonition: “Bring her back dirty!”

Later during the reception, Mercy could be soon making snow angels on the dance floor, and gathering flower petals and seed pods and bringing them to our table. Kind friends took turns walking and dancing and chasing her, and she had an absolute ball.

But I’m not sure that dress will be wearable for Easter…sorry Mom!


  1. “I say, if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life”

    -Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

  2. Ah how wonderful that you have a perfectly normal child, unlike the porciline creature on the other mom’s lap. Children are supposed to get into the soil and water and the other elements of the earth. Praise God there wasn’t fire for her grab a hold of and see what possibilities there are.

  3. You’ve got a sensibility from some past era. Your daughter a wood nymph? That made me laugh.

    I think you may be mistaking a western thing for a Northwestern deal. Most folks from the Rockies to the Pacific dig the mud and rocks and want to see both kids and adults getting messy. It’s all about the land.

    I think the people at the wedding probably have too much money. Or maybe they’re from the East Coast :^)

  4. Tom,

    You are likely correct about the Western thing. I guess my only experience with California is Los Angeles, and I have not found your description of Western folk to be true of this place. But there are cultural issues where I live that certainly impact that as well.

  5. LA is urban Hinduism. Most cities have a handful of identities. LA has dozens.

    Look harder. You’ll find millions of mud and rocks westerners there. You’ll also find pretty much everything else too for good or ill :^) But you’ve got to get out into the city to understand it. LA doesn’t reveal itself easily like most cities.

    I’m living in a city right now with a handful of identities. I’m suffering from nostalgia just like you are :^)

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