The first rain in a very long time washed away the summer humidity and blew in crisp autumn air. The summer that seemed to last forever is over and now I look back on those days in nostalgia.
The stars were aligned on August eighteenth.
Several years ago my parents transplanted two grapevines on either size of a trellis in our backyard in hopes that they would grow up the bars and produce fruit over the brick walkway. For years the vines were fruitless, and my dad even talked about taking them out. Every summer they grew further, stretching their vibrant green leaves along the trellises, the white picket fence, and the brick pilasters, but no fruit. And then in early June of this year, clusters of green grapes appeared all along both vines. They would grow bigger and brighter until August eighteenth. One vine produced green grapes; the other, red.
The unsightly tubers of the Naked Lady flowers outside the kitchen bay window shed layers of brown skin all spring. "If that plant doesn't start blooming, I'm taking it out because it's so ugly," my mom said. The Naked Ladies were along the pathway that the wedding guests would take into the backyard. She peeled off the brown layers and chopped off a tuber or two, but left the final decision until a week prior to the wedding when the slender green stems stretched high, and the buds of soft pink flowers bloomed like a chorus of trumpets.
My mom and I planted the sunflowers in the garden according to their specified heights. We put the tallest ones (6 feet) in the back rows and the shortest ones (4 feet) in the front or in pots. We were doubtful whether the flowers would work out when my mom mixed up the seed packages. And the potted sunflowers looked awfully dwarfish and unhealthy. By mid July the garden-planted flowers—all of them—were well over seven feet tall and still growing. They gobbled up the water that my mom so often overfed them. They grew taller and taller as if in competition. And then in the beginning of August I climbed onto the jungle-gym, which sits beside the garden for snow peas to grow on, and spotted the first burgundy bloom right in the center of the garden. Day by day more and more colors appeared: golden, orange, brown, and red. They reached their peak the day before the wedding when my mom, Becca, and Gretchen cut them to make bouquets to line the center aisle. They gathered clusters of the flowers and still had dozens left to speckle the garden with color: a joyous backdrop to our ceremony.
The hottest week of summer, when the Whittier temperatures reached 106, came two weeks after the wedding. The vivid bridesmaid bouquets were a perfect contrast against the bridesmaid's black dresses and the groomsmen's khaki suits. The ceremony finished on time. The sorbets were a smashing success in the GHFC sun. The opportunity to donate towards missions brought in over four thousand dollars. We missed the hurricane in Hawaii by a week.
It was ideal. I have no regrets. I have no complaints. Martha Stewart would have been proud.
I'm not saying it was perfect. It wasn't perfect. My stomach was threatening to expel all the meals I hadn't eaten in the last 48 hours. No, it wasn't perfect, but if it had been, there would be no longing for heaven.