Chapter 6: Planned Paradise
Kaitlyn jumped in at that point, saying, “This has all been just lovely. I want to do it again, often!”
There was a chorus of agreement around the circle.
Her mother spoke up, silencing the rest of us. “You know, Ramón, I’ve always wanted to set up a kind of getaway space out here, though closer to the house. Maybe this is the prod we’ve been looking for?”
He just shrugged in his taciturn way.
Kaitlyn spoke up in his stead. “That sounds wonderful, mom! What we really need is some kind of fenced area where we can get away without flashing the neighbors, closer to the house to make things easier.” She thought for a bit, then added, “Daddy, could you divert the irrigation into a pond for skinny-dipping?”
He thought a bit, then said, “The difficult bit is getting it to not be a mud pit. I think we’d need to give it a flow-through design: irrigation water in one end, pumped right back out the other so the water keeps flowing. We’ll have to clean the mud out from time to time, too.”
“It’d help if you lined it with river rock or similar,” I said. “Design it like a slow section of the Green River,” referring to the clearer of the two nearby rivers.
“It’d be a good reserve anyway, in case of drought,” he agreed.
“Sure, and you could pull one of those big bubble-wrap looking things across it in such times, like they have at outdoor pools to reduce evaporation,” put in Allison.
I asked, “Where’s the pump for your irrigation system, anyway? I haven’t seen it yet.”
“It’s over by the barn. You can see it from the road if you look on your way out next time. The old irrigation ditch down from the Colorado River is covered over now to save on evaporation, but that’s where it ran past the farm, so that’s where we put the pump in when we moved away from farming based on dribbling water down the furrows.”
“It’s pretty quiet,” I noted. “I haven’t heard it kick on the whole time we’ve been here.”
“Yeah, Mary insisted on that,” said Ramón, “what with it being so close to the house.”
“Well,” I went on, “I asked because that affects the water flow. We can just tee off from the main pipe out to the center of the irrigation system to come over here. Then in drought conditions, you can pump back into the system from the pond, right?”
“But what about the out-flow?” asked Miguel.
I could see why he made a good mechanic.
Everyone sat and thought about that, then Allison put in, “I’ve got it! What if we divert the yard water through this system instead? It already tees off of the irrigation system, so what if we send it through the pond, then out the other side and back into the old system? It won’t hurt the yard if the water’s a little muddier from having spent some time here.” Then she added with a coy grin, “In fact, it might help the yard to do it that way. More nutrients.”
We all got into the design process at that point, throwing ideas around.
Kaitlyn and I formed the “keep it natural” bloc, wanting a space we could practice magic in, reining in the tendency of the younger siblings to stretch for island resort designs. Kaitlyn’s parents backed us, doubtless thinking of the costs, as did Miguel, citing the time he’d have to take off work to help build the thing.
We didn’t tell them our reasons for wanting a natural retreat space, just our preferences. There was only one other person in this county that knew we were mages, and he was staying quiet.
At one point in the planning process, Vin spoke up. “Hey, I was thinking.”
Miguel said, “And we know just what you were thinking about,” putting his arm around his wife. We all smiled or laughed a bit at that.
“No, no!” he protested. “I was thinking about Star Trek.” That shut us all up. “Really! There’s a species on The Next Generation called the Betazoids, and…um…they get wed naked.”
Mary jumped on this really quickly. “You’ve been watching shows about naked space people on TV?” She was aghast.
“No, mom, they don’t show anything good. I mean, um, they mostly just talk about it. There was only one scene where they showed the upper backs of the couple and a bit of sideboob.” Defensively, Vin went on, “That’s all I remember, anyway.”
“I’ll just bet you remember the sideboob,” scoffed Allison. More smiles and snorts all around.
“Well, I’ve got all-boob in my face right now, so shut up and listen! They do the whole ceremony naked.”
“Everyone?” asked his mother.
“Yeah, but especially the couple. It’s a symbol of trust and love or something,” Vin finished.
“Well, I hadn’t gotten my dress yet anyway,” joked Kaitlyn.
“I can’t imagine a more beautiful way to present my bride to the world,” I said, utterly sincere. We locked eyes and would have stayed that way if the conversation hadn’t continued around us.
“This won’t do!” complained Mary. “I won’t get any wedding photos!”
Allison jumped in. “Of course we can still take photos; we’ll just have to be careful who we share them with, that’s all,” she said, grinning wickedly.
I stepped in at this point. “How about we modify it from the traditional Betazoid ceremony? We’ll all be clothed as is traditional for an Earth wedding, we’ll get all the photos taken, and then Kaitlyn and I will strip each other at the altar as a symbol of our openness to you, our friends and family, and of our trust and love for each other.”
“Awwww!” chorused the females.
“I love it, Davie!” answered Kaitlyn, the only one there who’s opinion I really cared about. Then to the rest, she announced, “And after… I hereby declare that the reception is clothing-optional!”
“And you can still take naked photos after the ceremony, as I said,” put in Allison.
I wondered if we had another Gutierrez exhibitionist on our hands?
Her father Ramón spoke up. “Well, I for one am glad I’m not going to have to walk my daughter down the aisle naked.”
“Sand, not aisle!” corrected Vin. Definitely a fellow geek.
“Sand, whatever!” Ramón answered laconically.
Kaitlyn stood and motioned her father to stand as well. “I’m naked now, daddy. What’s the problem?” Then she put her arm through his and they paraded in a few circuits around the picnic area together to general approval. Ramón was dark enough between his heritage and farmer’s tan to hide his blush pretty well, but I caught it. Kaitlyn then embraced her father, saying, “I love you papa!”
Ramón got a little teary-eyed and just kissed his daughter on the cheek, then stepped back from her and let her sit back down before rejoining his wife.
“So what about your parents, Davie?” Mary asked me.
“We’ll have to fly them in from Mumbai for the ceremony. I think they still have valid passports… I’ll call them in the next day or two and get it set up.”
“They’ll be okay with this plan?” pressed Mary.
“Nudity in India is treated differently than here in the US,” I began, explaining my birth culture. “In some ways, we’re a lot more conservative about nudity than even the US, which is unusually conservative among Western cultures. But there are notable exceptions, areas where the rules are relaxed. Spiritual ceremonies and such are one of those. I think they’ll be surprised by our plan, maybe a bit shocked, but not scandalized. I’ll tell them about it in advance, sound them out to be sure, though.”
“So when is all this happening?” put in Carmen.
“Kaitlyn and I agreed on August 9th this morning,” answered Mary. “Save the date. You will all be there,” she said, looking around sternly.
“Any objections?” asked Kaitlyn.
“Can’t wait!” answered Allison quickly.
“Me, either,” put in Vin.
“I can’t believe we’re doing this,” said Carmen.
Miguelito hugged her and said, “C’mon, it’ll be fun.” She didn’t look convinced, but she didn’t object further.
“All right, it’s settled,” I said. “Thank you all. I think we can make this a truly beautiful ceremony. It will be easy with Kaitlyn there.”
“Awwww!” went the women again.