This weekend was full of gigs and parties and recording, so all I wanted to do today was drink water and do healthy, relaxing things. I walked over to check out the new Irvington Farmers’ Market, which just started a couple of weeks ago, and is small but really great. I bought some chicken tacos and a boysenberry soda, and sat in a chair listening to a quartet of musicians play while I ate. I walked home and one of my friends called to tell me that he’d gone to the Rose Garden this morning (the actual rose garden, in Washington Park, not the stadium), and that sounded like the perfect thing to me too. I grabbed my camera, jumped in the car, and headed across town.
As luck would have it, I happened to be there at the perfect time. After I’d been there about fifteen minutes or so, I heard some sort of tribal drumming from the opposite end of the Garden. Since the Japanese Garden is right near there, I thought maybe Portland Taiko was giving a performance, although the music didn’t sound Japanese at all. I curtailed my rose activities and went over to investigate.
Coming down the steps were about thirty people in long white and green robes, singing, chanting, clapping and dancing to the rhythms of two large hand drums. They had arrived in a white Hummer stretch limousine, and everyone in the garden was enthralled by them. A few of us were standing around watching, since it seemed to be both public and private, if you see what I mean, so it took a while for us rubberneck photographers to see how close we could get without being intrusive.
Finally the groom and bride appeared, and it became obvious that the ceremony was a wedding. The group was clearly African, and I thought I recognized the language as being Ethiopian. Two women came to stand near me, and we chatted a bit about how beautiful it all was, and how lucky we felt to be there.
The group started in the main entrance to the garden, and slowly made their way to a handful of other locations. The bride and groom were often separated from the party, talking privately with the man who appeared to be the equivalent of the celebrant. When they took a turn and came toward me, in the direction of the steps, I saw that I was in the perfect position for some interesting photos. The wedding photographer walked next to me, and I said to him, “Can I ask where you’re from? Are you guys Ethiopian?” He said yes, they were, and he gave me a I-can’t-believe-you-actually-know-about-Ethiopia smile.
I didn’t realize until they came closer just how exquisite and ornate their clothes were. Look at all the little details and layers. They must have been roasting under all that. It was about eighty degrees today.
I was even lucky enough to capture the two of them in one of the rare moments when they weren’t completely surrounded by people, and had a moment to themselves. It was a nice moment. After this shot, I put down my camera and congratulated them as they walked by, and was rewarded with radiant smiles from both of them.
They led the wedding party down the steps, and by this time there was quite a crowd of people gathered around to watch, and to take pictures and videos, so I didn’t have to be stealthy anymore. I saw an opportunity to get in front of the group as they came down the steps, and I took it.
In the back left of the pictures below, you can clearly see that the couple are off on their own, while the group is carrying on with the singing and chanting. Also, it’s a bit hard to tell from these pictures, but the teal color of the womens’ dresses was absolutely stunning in the sun. There was a multitude of hues of greens and blues, and the women shimmered as they walked and danced.
At this point I decided to take a little video, because even the best pictures can’t convey the movement and volume of what was happening. Like i said, every single other person in the busy garden was enthralled by this group.
You can see in the video that the bride and groom came around the back of the frame, and slowly led the party to the next location, and that’s when I decided to leave them. I figured that I’d bothered them enough, and I was very excited to come home and see how the pictures came out. That’s when I noticed that I’d lost the extra battery for my camera. I retraced my steps as best I could, but the garden is like a maze, so I never did find the battery. Maybe if you find it you could let me know? Thanks. It’s a Canon, about an inch across, and it looks like this.
Anyway. That was the only small downside to this otherwise wonderful day. I feel very lucky to have been where I was, and to be able to witness such a beautiful and captivating event.
Oh yeah. . .I would be remiss not to add the picture of the stretch Hummer, which was parked right behind my car. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must have been to navigate that monstrosity through the narrow, winding roads of Washington Park.