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Loving Lovers and Painted Ladies

It was Saturday, soggy (a smorgasbord of smoke from California fires, fog and sun) but gloriously warm. The sog cast the kind of eerie golden light that big city folks are inured to.

Now that I’ve kvetched, I must describe as best I can the glory of the day at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove. “Lovers” is actually Lovers of Jesus, dubbed by Christians who used the area as a Methodist retreat. They pitched tents on narrow lots that now house the board and batten Victorians in “The Last Hometown.

Anyhoo, I seldom visit Lovers Point Park because it is so highly peopled. But today I was rubbernecking one of a train of weddings that happened there. In fact I was one of dozens who stood, transfixed by the ceremonies. I saw three in all. They followed in rapid succession but couldn’t be likened to chintzy Vegas nuptials.

White and black quadruple stretch Hummers and Lincolns sat in the parking lot. Ministers stood before companies of 10 to 50 guests. And music from loudspeakers blared some of the best love songs I’ve ever heard.

The first bride wore a balloon of stark white, her bridesmaids were draped in blinding purple and the best men sported bold aqua vests beneath their tuxedoes. There were no subtleties at this one as the couples exchanged their vows and whooped it up afterward. It was a real fiesta.

As soon as the bridal party was ushered off the greens, another wedding ensued and this one knocked my socks off. The bride, in a creamy, dreamy halter topped gown, buttons down the back and a 10-foot veil skimming her bare tanned shoulders and blonde hair, had to be a professional model. Or she should be. And her husband-to-be, a slightly shorter version of Barrack Obama but even handsomer, wore a boutonničre of rust and golden lilies, as did the bridesmaids dressed in sumptuous, shoulder-less, pale gold gowns.

Guests were equally chic. And the personal vows that the couple read to each other should be in a wedding manual. Phrases like “You are my best friend . . . accepting you entirely as you are . . . loving your whole family . . . hanging in during the hard times, etc.” brought tears to my eyes and some of the bridesmaids’ too.

But here’s the killer: at the end, the bride held a white beribboned box. And when she lifted off the top, a cloud of butterflies set sail over the grass and up to the cypress trees.
Many seemed stunned and landed on people. She had to coax several more out of the box and one remained on her hand as she greeted guests.

I was feeling empathetic for the displaced bugs but felt some relief when I saw that they were painted ladies, a species that is common to our area.

Well, it didn’t look like a day to work, so I grabbed my beach towel and a book and descended the stairs to a small beach that, in all my 35 years on the Peninsula, I never ventured on to because I was a snob. Too many kids and families. I prefer the pristine beaches of Pebble or Asilomar or Carmel.

However, to my surprise, I discovered that the water was less frigid in the little cove, there was less wind, there were no flies and the sand was, in fact, comprised of shells.

With kaleidoscopic catamarans, kayaks and scuba divers just offshore, I eked out a spot in the sand and soon felt I was on vacation in Hawaii.

I was blissed out when the adorable newly-weds trounced onto the beach with videographers and photographers in tow. And for the next hour, I watched while they posed on rocks, kissed and even removed their shoes and danced into the water.

I heard someone say, “My God! She’s ruining that gorgeous gown.” And the answer came back, “Well, she only bought it to wear once.”

I guess they don’t plan on handing it down to a daughter because by the time hubby had swooped wifey into his arms and swung her in circles in the bay, her veil was looking as limp as the kelp hanging from their attire.

I was enthralled by the sweetness that this couple emanated, making sure all members of the extended family were comfortable, their genuine smiles of love at each other, etc.

Then my attention turned to a big little boy of about eight, whose blubber bulged over his swim trunks. I watched in horror as he ran across the beach, right into another picnic, jammed his chubby fists into a large bag of barbecued potato chips and munched down.

The picnic party seemed stunned but laughed all the same.

His father scolded him lovingly and drew him back to their site but the boy had to be reminded several times more not to run back to the bag of chips.

The critic in me was wondering why his slim parents and brother hadn’t taught him better eating habits, when I noticed another sister, also grossly overweight, who seemed unable to speak. Then it dawned on me: neither of these children had said a word. They must be mute. Perhaps they were adopted and had a horrid past or a disorder resulting in obesity.

All I knew then was what my guru says to me, “Never compare or judge.” And I felt ashamed that I had been critical of these children. Obviously they were a handful, but their parents (or caregivers) were lovingly patient with them.

As I exited my scintillating 2-hour vacation I traipsed through another wedding and, ever the cynic, hoped that their union would last as long as the painted ladies that speckled the area with their orange and brown spotted wings . . .



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