J. and I made it to T's state jazz competition in South Portland, then to my first cousin's wedding reception in Newburyport, MA. In a preview of things to come more often in the future, perhaps, we made a spontaneous decision to stay for the night. My sister and brother-in-law were staying in a very charming old colonial inn in the heart of old Newburyport, and we decided to join them.
It was a mini-family reunion at my cousin's wedding yesterday. All of my siblings and most spouses were there, my parents, and a slew of cousins that I haven't seen in years. I know that "the family" in some contexts can mean an oppressive mafioso regime, or an exquisite chaos of dysfunction, but in my happy case family has always been a solid foundation of support and a blessing.
The fact that I grew up spending summers with extended family has a lot to do with it. Even if we haven't seen each other in years, and even if we didn't see each other a ton during summers at Big Wolf Lake, we have the shared connection and experience of that place, its history, and our own histories there. My parents are second cousins themselves, and forged much of their relationship at the lake, and my mother's and father's parents spent time acquainting there as well. An enormous part of my identity and history is wrapped up in a few dozen acres of land around a three mile long lake in the Adirondacks.
So cousins are an integral part of my very existence, and a treasure that I appreciate in new and unexpected ways all the time. Genetics are not essential to the mix either - adopted family through marriage, or step-relations, or deep friendships can all become a part of the same tree. It is the spirit of family that infuses it, not the biology.
The lake comes up in conversation, but also our lives, children, celebrations and woes. It is the root system that feeds our connections to each other and extends out into the world. And this wedding is another very lovely connection with a new branch. This wedding celebration was filled with a heartfelt love that warms the soul - I am filled with hope for my cousin's future with this wonderful man. I feel richer once again by the strength growing in another branch of my family tree.
J. showed up once again this morning, as he is wont to do, as a surprise as I was walking along the wharfs on the Merrimack River. He is the vital pulse of strength in MY branch of the family tree, and I'm feeling pretty grateful for him too. We walked up onto a bridge that crosses back over to New Hampshire for the sunrise view (oops - correction: it wasn't New Hampshire, still Mass.). But the view was actually nicer down on the river's edge.
I always get my sunrise times from the US Naval Observatory website. Today was the first time that I looked at the time on my cell phone at the moment of sunrise, and it matched the USNO time exactly. There was the glowing disk of the sun just rising into view, at 6:33 on the dot.