Joy in the Tropics

Edith/Maddie here, back home north of Boston, where it’s cold and quiet.

Our regular readers might know I traveled to Puerto Rico recently for the joyous occasion of my younger son’s wedding. Isn’t that perfect for the month of love? And, oh, what a time I had!

John David Hutchison-Maxwell and Alexandra Santiago-Llegus live and work at the Plenitud PR Teaching Center and Farm in a little town called Las Marias in the mountains of western Puerto Rico. The wedding was held at the farm and other events took place elsewhere in Las Marias.

My boy is thirty-four, so it took him a little while to find his true love, but it was worth the wait. We adore the talented, beautiful, and affectionate Alex, and the two are perfect for each other. She grew up in Ponce, a city in the south of Puerto Rico.

Hugh and I went a day early to have time with John and Alex without the crush of all the others. We got to see where they live on the farm, with two superadobe houses (read about them here) and a kitchen/sitting room.

JD showing Hugh the second and not-quite finished house.

Hugh and I settled into our big rental house a couple of miles from the farm and shared it with Allan and Alison, my older son and his wife, plus Barbara and Janet, my two older sisters, and three generations of our good friends, who are family by choice. My brother David, alas, couldn’t make it, and we missed him.

The next day we all helped with some wedding prep.

Then we welcomed Alex’s family to our house, which included a spacious covered downstairs patio. Her mom, aunts, and grandmother brought a big home-cooked Puerto Rican dinner and we all got to know each other, working through Spanish and English and lots of smiles and hugs.

My oldest nephew and his wife came from Idaho, and Alex’s father Tito is to the right.

The next day JD gave a farm tour, explaining everything from water filtration to terraced growing to bioconstruction, and we all helped with more prep.

Alex’s grandmothers have been friends since they were children. It was such a delight to meet Mama Mary and Mama Fela, both 89, despite the fact that I rarely understood what they were saying.

We in the wedding party rehearsed in front of the bamboo arch John David’s friends constructed (which was festooned with fresh blooms the next day for the ceremony), with the little flower girls leading off. Kaya and Cosima had never met before this but became great friends.

Rehearsal dinner back at our house was catered and lovely and I gave a toast in English and Spanish (thank you, Google, for the translation). (My darling great-goddaughter’s face isn’t allowed on the internet, thus the obscuring, and her little brother was asleep upstairs.)

The next day was wedding day, with my friend Jennifer and I getting our hair done.

Allan was part of the men’s getting-ready group and sent a couple of pix.

Alas, there were no candid shots of me and my boys together all gussied up, and we’ll have to wait for the official photos to come in to see what the photographer captured.

Allan did shoot this one of my sister and me checking out family pictures. I’m happy to report the footwear, about which I angsted for months, was comfortable and suitable, as was the dress.

My sisters and their nephew-the-groom look great, as does Hugh.

The bride, always a lovely woman, was stunning in a dress designed and sewn by one of her bridesmaids (a fashion designer). We’ll have to wait for official photographs, but we caught this one of the newlyweds during a musical number.

Their friends surprised them with a lovely rendition of George Harrison’s “Give Me Love,” complete with cello, guitar, keyboard, and a lead singer.

Our mother-groom dance was to Nanci Griffith’s performance of “From a Distance,” a song I was listening to before and after John David was born, and one that still holds meaning for both of us (song written by Julie Gold). Again, so far no pix of our dance that I’ve seen, but I cherish the memory.

A family brunch the next day was delightful.

We closed the day with JD and Alex dining with us in our house.

Anna (Jennifer’s daughter and Cosima’s mother) is like a sister to my sons, and vice versa. Kevin’s mother is Puerto Rican, so he fit right in.

Anna and Kevin’s son, Luca, loves trying to walk in Daddy’s shoes.

I finished off the stay with a few days on the east coast with Jennifer, my beach buddy of 45 years. We swam, hopped a ferry for a quick visit to Vieques, and toured tropical rain forest El Yunque. Both of us seventy-somethings completed the 1500-foot climb up to Mt. Britton on a path constructed ninety years ago by the WPA (most of it was in better shape than this stretch).

I came home from all those lovely warm days and evenings, all that lush vegetation, to an ice storm, snow, and frigid New England temperatures, but at least the flight went smoothly with no delays.

You might fairly ask if I wrote during my trip. Readers, I did not. On the plane ride home, I drafted a synopsis for Cece Barton #2, which is overdue to my editor, but that was it.

Now that I’ve been home for four days, it’s time to stop being distracted and get the last 20k words written on Deep Fried Death, Country Store Mystery #12, which is due in a month.

But I refilled the creative well, and most important, I was there to celebrate one of life’s biggest passages with my son and my favorite loved ones.

Readers: What big or small life moment have you celebrated lately?

50 Thoughts

  1. Edith, congratulations to your son and his new bride.

    Nothing big of late, but there is always the rest of the year.

  2. Looks like a good time was had by all! Glad you got some downtime from work and enjoyed friends and family!

  3. Love Puerto Rico, we have been there several times and the mountains are lovely but I’m getting too decrepit to do the trails anymore. We celebrated our 15th anniversary in Hawaii this past September which was a dream of ours. We went to this huge luau and they announced it and we danced in front of all these people most of which were from our cruise ship.

    1. Congratulations! I loved your pictures and reading about the wedding and trip. May they have many years of joy.

  4. What lovely pictures, Edith. That shot of El Yunque brings back memories.

    We recently celebrated my brother-in-law’s 63rd birthday with dinner at a local bbq joint and fudge brownies.

  5. Looks like a fabulous celebration on the joining of hands/heart as well as families. May God bless them with many years of happiness and may struggles only bring them closer.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  6. Congratulations to your son and his bride. The pictures are beautiful. The only thing that changed was I now live in middle Tennessee since Christmas eve from NYC. Big change.

    1. I so happy you had such an amazing trip, Edith! My wife and I made that same hike in El Yunque this time last year. Good times, good memories

  7. What a wonderful trip you had to your son’s wedding! From a Distance is a very special song, perfect for your dance. Haven’t had any special celebrations recently. My grandson will be celebrating his 4th birthday soon, the first one with a family party due to covid, but I won’t be there – my sister is having some health problems & I’ll be home helping her. Next year…

  8. Thank you, Edith, for sharing your family and their joys with us. Looking forward to seeing a couple of the formal pix, too. Everyone looks so radiant.

    A small celebration for most people, but a big one for us: We just got a new kitty! It’s been a lonely two years without one, but circumstances ruled. Now we have the most precious, 3-year old, absolutely perfect kitty. We celebrated with a bottle of bubbly!

  9. Edith, thank you for bringing so much loving, happiness , joy, (I can almost hear the laughter and feel the hugs) to share. Blessings.

  10. Thank you for sharing your fabulous pictures. Congratulations on your new daughter. On January 16, we celebrated my Mom being delivered into the arms of the Lord. She has had a very hard two years. She was ready to be out of pain and suffering. God bless you.

  11. I loved your wedding photos and comments. My nephew got remarried in Puerto Rico to his 2nd wife last February 27 (today is their first anniversary) and I did not get to go due to the Covid stuff still out there and I have issues. So, your wedding photos made me enjoy again their wedding photos and what I missed. Thank you and God bless to your new daughter and your son’s special day!

  12. What a glorious time! Thanks for sharing the joy.
    I’ve been enjoying great-niece Gabrielle, who just attained 6 months, and two slightly younger great-great niblings, Parker and Rhune, whom I see less often but who are also special and sweet. Life goes on in its own mysterious way and pace, and isn’t it wonderful! <3

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