A naturalist and mother-of-the-bride collide

Herbarium binder

Binder for Maine Master Naturalist herbarium

The intensity of the Maine Master Naturalist program allows for no interruptions and no absences. The application is quite clear: if you cannot attend all classes and workshops, do not apply.

My best and wisest and most beautiful daughter was getting married, here in our backyard, about three weeks after the course began. I was hungering for this class, but knew that an entire week, and more, was dedicated to her and her future husband. I checked the dates anyway. Yes, it could be done.

The first field trip ended at two pm. Add an hour for travel and schmoozing, and that gave me two hours before Kymry and fiancé Christian were due for dinner, after flying in from California.

The last guests (we provided sleeping for twenty-two, plus ourselves, that’s a lot of towels) were scheduled to leave June 1, in the morning after breakfast. The next Master Naturalist class after the field trip was that evening. Yes, I could do it, I thought, and signed on.

Little did I know what was involved in being a host at a destination wedding. My daughter is an awesome organizer, and I could just have gone along for the ride, but this was possibly the biggest event in my life (yes, in her life, too.) and I wanted to be hands on. Designing menus on one screen, checking my assignments on another, the two worlds collided, and then moved forward. They did not intertwine, but they felt comfortable side-by-side. The bird-watching site from the field trip became a place for my sister and I to go for some wildlife and connecting. On the carriage ride through Acadia with the bride, groom, and groom’s family, I found common ground with my future son-in-law’s dad, who had once worked for the forestry department. We road along happily identifying trees, and soon the entire carriage was shouting out “Striped maple” and “Yellow birch.” I was doing my homework and being wedding participant at the same time.

herbarium binder

The bride and driver, with groom and rider, off to ID trees in Acadia

Our houseguests were mostly family, and all pitched in to make it easy, in fact, my kitchen was cleaner at the end of the wedding than when it started. There was still much to do, though, and for 14 days I never managed more than five hours sleep. I’d fall into bed with lists for the next day written in hot red on the inside of my eyelids–make sandwiches for the bridal shower, set up the trellis for the wedding ceremony, find a source for lobsters, move chairs from point A to point B, get bug spray for ceremony. Bug spray, as I drifted towards sleep, reminded me of the attack of the predacious diving beetle on the Maine Master Naturalist field trip the day the wedding events began. Oh yes, I needed to mount it and label it. “After the wedding,” was my last thought that night.

Some things never got done, such as my plan to hand letter the backs of the wooden chairs with bride and groom initials, and we miscalculated how long it would take to bring the giant kettle of water for cooking 35 lobsters at the post wedding lobster feed. But we were all there to celebrate the solemn and joyous union of two young people who are starting a future together, and everything outside that really did not matter.

There was tear down for days after the event. Burlap that covered mud buckets filled with lilacs will be reused in the cover for my herbarium assignment. As I gathered droopy lilacs for the compost pile I listened to distant bird song. A catbird I think. Then I realized I knew, without a doubt.

It is after the wedding. Ferns, insects, and mosses ahead. And, I think just maybe, I am going to learn birds.



Karen O. Zimmermann

About Karen O. Zimmermann

Karen O. Zimmermann savors chance encounters with people throughout the state of Maine, and is endlessly delighted with the tales they have to share.