You were out in the Fairfax County countryside west of Oakton on Saturday, and looked skyward, and you saw dozens of pink, violet and white balloons floating overhead. Where were they coming from? Perhaps from the dedication ceremony of Metro's new Vienna train terminal?

No. They took the place of the rice that might have been thrown at a wedding at the Fairfax Unitarian Church.

E.B. Cooper, a nursing professor at Northern Virginia Community College, was wed to Earle Kirkbride, a retired federal worker, with the church's minister, Ralph Stutzman, officiating.

Because rice, the traditional harbinger of a wedding, is a symbol of fertility and was deemed not appropriate to Cooper, a divorce, and Kirkbride, a widower -- both are parents of grown children and Cooper is a grandmother -- somebody dreamed up the idea of having everyone at the wedding (including the bridal couple) release helium-filled balloons simultaneously.

Then the couple went to the groom's car to depart for their honeymoon, only to find that it, too, had been stuffed to the overhead with even more balloons. The couple, aided by two of the bride's young grandchildren, batted them out the door. Orange Line Notes

*As recalled in a news story last week, former Fairfax mayor and current state Sen. John W. Russell, a Republican, was quoted in 1971 by a now-defunct newspaper as saying he would "see God before I see Metro," and promising to eat the newspaper account if the prediction were reversed.

At the Vienna ceremony, Metro director and Fairfax County Supervisor Joseph Alexander excused a grinning Russell from having to eat those words, saying a copy of the original paper couldn't be found. But, Alexander said, he found himself in the role of a prophet to whom God spoke directly, relaying divine word that Russell was forgiven and that, if Russell continues to support Metro, the Lord would ultimately validate his transit ticket to heaven.

Quipped a grinning Russell privately, "With my luck, that's the day the Farecard machine breaks down."

*The most glaring omission of the day, when local and Metro officials on the platform were introducing every politician in sight (and recalling some deceased ones), was to ignore a man in the front row center of the East Falls Church station ceremony. He is Lee M. Rhoads, formerly mayor of Falls Church and a Metro board member, whose enthusiasm provided the glue that kept his city in the transit program when there were strong community pressures to pull out.

*Tributes given and deserved: to two at the Vienna ceremony, former Metro deputy general manager Warren D. Quenstedt, now visiting from his Arizona retirement home, and retired Metro construction chief Roy T. Dodge; and to the late state senator Charles R. Fenwick (D-Arlington), without whom Metro probably wouldn't exist.

*Riding a train in the median strip of I-66 produces an exhilarating feeling, especially when the train passes cars lined up in a traffic jam. But it also can produce a queasy feeling when you're riding backward in a train car and you look out as automobiles on the adjacent freeway lanes are coming in your direction, pacing or passing the train.