Black Tie Optional

We pulled our VW Microbus into the dirt-with-patches-of-grass parking lot, past the decrepit sign welcoming us to the derelict Geyserville hot springs. This Northern California town had at some point been selected as the test site for producing electricity using geothermal energy, dooming what was, apparently, once an actual spa of some sort. Now it cost $2 to park there and stay for, well, forever, if you had nowhere else to go. Someone, I don’t remember who, had told us, “Go check out the hot springs in Geyserville,” so here we were.

All that was left of the facilities was what nature provided. The wrecks of one or two buildings were deteriorating into the landscape. That still left natural hot springs, sulfurous mud hillsides, shaded waterfall-fed pools.

As My Future Ex-Wife and I started to look around, someone said to us, “There’s a wedding at 3:00 — you’re invited.” I’d never actually attended a wedding party, so this sounded like a good opportunity to broaden my horizons. We could see long tables with food being set up under the trees. We could see that a few folks had tents set up for their stay, and there were several other Microbus-style vehicles that were clearly, like ours, suitable for sleeping in.

So we spent some time exploring, eventually finding ourselves some distance away in an isolated, gorgeously idyllic spot. Soft, mossy, leafy ground under a Zen-worthy tree, perched just a few feet above a small rock-lined pool of cold, crystalline water, spoke to us as clearly as the serpent in Eden must have addressed Eve. And, as in the Old Testament, this led to a valuable lesson which, in case it can save anyone else from learning it the hard way, I’d like to pass on: Do not be so blindly transported by the beauty and comfort of a natural setting that, days after having lain there, you discover you’ve made it among the poison oak.

After we’d checked out the environs, we hustled back to find the site of the nuptials.

We were told the happy union would take place where the stream forked. This turned out to be a lovely open area where two little streams flowed around a tiny island and became one.

People there were sitting on the edge dangling their feet or standing around. One wedding touch that even I, with my lack of experience in such matters, could tell was unusual was that everybody was completely naked. Even the middle-aged parents were naked, gamely standing in the stream letting it all hang out. We conformed with the dress code (cheaper than renting a tux, anyway, not to mention allowing the assembled throng to easily catch that I had the hottest date) & sat streamside, dangling our feet in the gentle current.

Music began to play. The tiny island was just big enough to serve as bandstand for an Indian taboura player & a bamboo flute player. The beautiful bride & groom – naked, naturally, except for being garlanded with flowers – came walking downstream, each aptly in one of the about-to-fork streams. When they’d almost reached the little island they each placed the flowers they’d been wearing into the water and we all watched the flowers float a few feet further downstream and past the little island, where they, like the two streams, then joined together.

And they were married.

And then we ate. (We dressed for dinner.)

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