a gentle tree

4.7.13.5078
4.7.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

On March 31st I met a lovely tree in a local cemetery and could not stop thinking about her all week. (See the Lady Patience post.) So I plan to visit her as often as possible and get to know her through the seasons. As is often the case with me, I sensed an energy coming from her but did not notice any of her particular physical characteristics.

During the week following our meeting a life-threatening health crisis arose for one of Tim’s brothers, Toby. Brother Josh flew from his home in England to California to collect Toby and fly with him here so he could stay with us and seek treatment. So it’s been a very busy week getting Toby settled in for the indefinite and uncertain future.

4.7.13.5080
Larisa ~ 4.7.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

It is difficult to realize how great a part of all that is cheerful and delightful in the recollections of our own life is associated with trees. … Their shades, which, in the early ages, were the temples of religion and philosophy, are still the favorite resort of the studious, the scene of healthful sport for the active and adventurous, and the very sanctuary of peaceful seclusion for the contemplative and sorrowful.
~ Wilson Flagg
(The Atlantic Monthly, June 1868)

I don’t even know what kind of tree “my” tree is! When she puts out some leaves I will be able to identify her, but I wish I could identify her by her bark.

Larisa came for the weekend to visit her uncles, and when I mentioned my new tree she was happy to pop over with me to see her and to pose for a couple of pictures with her, too. On this trip I noticed the tree’s burls – one very large one near the base of the trunk, and perhaps ten much smaller ones above it and below the first branches. And Larisa noticed the shape of the branches – like check marks they arch up and then down before reaching up again.

The kitties are handling all the extra people in the house pretty well. Zoë is blossoming with friendliness and curiosity. Scarby is still pretty shy and anxious, but she stays where she feels safe under Tim’s bed and I suspect she comes out to eat and use the litter pan once everyone is asleep. We’re giving her all the time and space she seems to need. After all, it’s only been a month since her whole world was turned upside down!

lady patience

3.31.13.5010
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Exploring cemeteries is something we enjoy, even ones in which none of our known ancestors lie buried. They are pleasant places to take walks and get some exercise – we even met a couple of joggers in the 22-acre non-sectarian Stonington Cemetery on Easter Sunday.

3.31.13.5011
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Reflecting on the life stories stone carvers have told with their memorial masonry…

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

In the smaller sculpture (above), which is elevated on a pedestal, the woman is leaning on an upright log. In the similar, but larger sculpture (below), the woman is leaning on a pillar.

3.31.13.5013
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A close-up of the same statue…

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

The following engraving touched me – how much sorrow the simple word “only” conveys.

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

The Stonington Cemetery was incorporated in 1849, expanding a small 18th century burial ground.  A group of Stonington leaders, many of whom made their fortunes as a result of the whaling and shipping trades, came together to design a significant horticultural and aesthetic landscape site responding to the “rural” or “garden” cemetery movement of the time.
~ Stonington Cemetery

3.31.13.5031
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A majestic tree, waiting patiently for spring to begin in earnest…

3.31.13.5036
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A bit of architecture to mark the ATWOOD family plot. I wonder if they could be related, as I have so many Atwoods on my family tree, though my branch settled in Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A large rough-hewn stone cross – I love its simplicity.

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Following the custom of Laurie Buchanan over at Speaking from the Heart, I selected the word ‘patience’ to focus on in 2013. In a bit of synchronicity I found another statue of a woman in a newer part of the cemetery, much like the ones in the older part. This stone carver gave her a name – PATIENCE. She is leaning on an upright log.

3.31.13.5049
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

The ship’s wheel (below) indicates a sailor lies buried here, the grave much more recent than most of the others in this cemetery. The surname sounds Portuguese to me – in the mid-1800s it was primarily immigrant Portuguese sailors who manned the local Stonington whaling fleet.

3.31.13.5052
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

A lovely little garden plot by the woods…

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3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
3.31.13.5058
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

This anchor (below) decorates a pile, where sailors would secure their boats to the docks with ropes. I’m wondering if this stone is marking the corner of a family cemetery plot. Perhaps the plot was bought but never used, or maybe it is filled with unmarked graves.

3.31.13.5061
3.31.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

All true stories begin and end in a cemetery.
~ Carlos Ruiz Zafón
(The Shadow of the Wind)

All Hallows’ Eve

"The Day of the Dead” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
“The Day of the Dead” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Your tombstone stands among the rest;
Neglected and alone.
The name and date are chiseled out
On polished, marbled stone.
It reaches out to all who care
It is too late to mourn.
You did not know that I exist
You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you
In flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
Entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled
One hundred years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left
Who would have loved you so.
I wonder if you lived and loved,
I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot,
And come to visit you.
~ Author Unknown

image: grandmasgraphics.com
image: grandmasgraphics.com

Listen …
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
 The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break free from the trees
And fall.
 ~ Adelaide Crapsey
(November Night)

Samhain: November 7, 2011, 1:27 p.m.
November 6, 2012, 7:10 p.m.

All Hallows’ Eve ~ All Saint’s Day
Celtic New Year
Day of the Dead ~ Halloween ~ Hallowmas
Last Harvest ~ Martinmas ~ Samhain

Ancestors

Seasonal Movie:
Sleepy Hollow

Activities:
Visit graves of ancestors at cemeteries…

The Quotable Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) ~ Sleepy Hollow Cemetery ~ Concord, Massachusetts

Last year in June I wrote a blog about Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts, which originally included a quote mistakenly attributed to Henry David Thoreau. Jeff Cramer, an editor who works at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, took the time to comment on my blog and kindly called my attention to the error, which I was happy to correct.

On Thursday, June 16th of this year Jeff will be presenting a reading from and a discussion of a new book he has edited, The Quotable Thoreau. Wish I could go, but I will add the book to my Kindle and be there in spirit.

One page on the Thoreau Institute website I find very illuminating is The Henry D. Thoreau Mis-Quotation Page, which takes note of quotations either misquoted or erroneously attributed to Thoreau. Very helpful!

Another treasure trove for this quote collector!

Larisa in Norway

August 2010 – Larisa, Johanna, Erin

In August our daughter Larisa had the opportunity to travel to Norway with her cousin, Erin, to visit Erin’s friend, Johanna. Larisa gave me permission to post some of her pictures!! One of my passionate dreams, when circumstances allow, is to visit Norway, the land of some of our sea-faring ancestors. Although Johanna didn’t live by the sea, the mountains offered more than enough beauty and scenic vistas to satisfy my curiosity for now… Larisa brought me a treasure: one of the flowers she picked in the field (below).

Larisa – Norway.2010 – “The hills are alive…”
Larisa, Erin, Johanna – Norway 2010 … Amazing how blue the water is!
Norway 2010 …nature…

According to Wikipedia: “A stave church is a medieval wooden church with a post and beam construction related to timber framing. The wall frames are filled with vertical planks. The load-bearing posts (stafr in Old Norse, stav in Norwegian) have lent their name to the building technique.” There is a replica of one at the Norway Pavilion at EPCOT in Disney World, which I have visited four times.

One of Norway’s stave churches – 2010
…Erin in the graveyard of a stave church…

Raised by a genealogist, Larisa knows that pictures of cemeteries are essential souvenirs to bring back from any country visited.

Show me your cemeteries, and I will tell you what kind of people you have.
~ Benjamin Franklin

Norway 2010 …feels like home…

The first time Larisa showed me the picture above, I got butterflies in my stomach because it seemed so very familiar. I saw that same reaction portrayed once in the movie The Motorcycle DiariesWhen Ernesto “Ché” Guevara took in the spirit of the ruins of Machu Picchu, he wondered, “How is it possible to feel nostalgia for a world I never knew?” I knew exactly what he meant. It is the same feeling I also had when I walked into the stave church replica at EPCOT.

And of course it also made me think of Sigrid Undset and her books Kristin Lavransdatter and The Master of Hestviken. And the Kristin Lavransdatter movie directed by Liv Ullmann.

Thank you, Larisa! You have given your mother a most wonderful gift!

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

The one in Concord, Massachusetts. Not the “original” one in Sleepy Hollow, New York. In August 2006 my daughter Larisa and I visited the one in Concord, which, as far as I know, does not have its own website.

Julie left a beautiful poem – written by Louisa May Alcott about doves – in the comments on yesterday’s blog. The poetry made me recall the visit with my daughter to Orchard House, also in Concord, where the author and poet lived. We weren’t allowed to take pictures at Orchard House, but we got quite a few when we went to locate Louisa’s grave along the Author’s Ridge path in Concord’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Emerson lie buried there as well.

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Author’s Ridge ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

The unpretentious gravestones reflect the ideas of these Concord neighbors, writers who were prominent transcendentalists, naturalists, pacifists, philosophers, abolitionists and teachers. Louisa’s father, Amos Bronson Alcott, founded of the Concord School of Philosophy, and a building was constructed behind Orchard House to serve as a place for the public to attend the summer lectures offered about transcendentalism. Louisa’s parents rest on Author’s Ridge as well.

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

Larisa and I were so touched by the little stones people left in tribute. People from all over the world come here to pay their respects to the dearly loved writer. We were curious what people might have said in the notes they left, but chose to respect their privacy.

My father taught in the wise way which unfolds what lies in the child’s nature, as a flower blooms, rather than crammed it, like a Strasbourg goose, with more than it could digest.
~ Louisa May Alcott

Alcott family marker ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

All the beauty and advantages of Conversation is in its bold contrasts, and swift surprises… Prose and logic are out of place, where all is flowing, magical, and free.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888)

Wherever I turn I see the yoke on woman in some form or other. On some it sits easy, for they are but beasts of burden. On others, pride hushes them to silence; no complaint is made, for they scorn pity or sympathy. On some it galls and chafes; they feel assured by every instinct of their nature that they were designed for a higher, nobler calling than to drag life’s lengthening chain along.
~ Abigail May Alcott (1800-1877)

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

Direct your eye right inward, and you’ll find
A thousand regions in your mind
Yet undiscovered.
Travel them and be
Expert in home-cosmography.
~ Henry David Thoreau

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

It is to the credit of human nature that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates.
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

Respect the child. Wait and see the new product of Nature. Nature loves analogies, but not repetitions. Respect the child. Be not too much his parent. Trespass not on his solitude.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Another grave I’d like to visit one day is that of Emily Dickinson, which I think is located in Amherst, Massachusetts. A day trip sometime… Maybe with Larisa??

In this quiet valley, as in the palm of Nature’s hand, we shall sleep well, when we have finished our day.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Barbara ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

my mother

Write something, anything…

Tonight there will be a full moon. Today is the day my mother died, nineteen long years ago. She was only 59. I was only 34. So young, the both of us. Fifty-nine seemed like such a long way off then, and here I am now, at fifty-three, wondering at the last nineteen years, each day so long in the living and yet the years speeding by. My son is 34. I look at him and try to imagine him motherless, as I became at his age.

It’s amazing that I still miss her so and often wonder what life would now be like if she was here… Somehow I want to do something in her memory, but I’m not sure how…

Elisabeth J. White

Mom was a nature lover and avid bird watcher. One time she found a baby owl that lived in our bathroom for a while until it was ready for release. Our childhood was spent camping, canoeing, and hiking. She was a physical therapist and loved to read. If she wasn’t outside, she had her nose in a newspaper or book.

Her high school classmates said of her: “With charm of soul possessed by her, she rules herself.” So true. Until I left home, I was unaware of the “war between the sexes.” My parents had a true egalitarian relationship. Mom disliked cooking and it was unremarkable to me that Dad did the cooking and Mom mowed the lawn. They modeled interdependence and mutuality for me and my sister.

She loved her grandchildren, my children, and took each of them separately for a special week-long visit at Grandma’s before she was too ill to enjoy them. After her special visit, my then ten-year-old daughter declared her intention to move in with her grandparents. Her grandma gently explained to her that it wouldn’t be as much fun if she was living there full-time.

Mom didn’t have any sons, so she adored her grandsons, who were thirteen and fifteen when she died. My older son was her little shadow and loved following her around, helping to feed her chickens, weed the garden, pick vegetables for dinner, or whatever else they found to occupy themselves out there. There was a special bond between them and he took her death the hardest.

It’s kind of funny, Mom had no interest in art or interior decor. My sister and I, who have more of an eye for balance and color, were continually exasperated at how she arranged the furniture and how nothing seemed to go together. One day while Mom was at work, my sister took it upon herself to make new curtains for the kitchen, paint it and put down some pretty shelf paper. Mom didn’t seem to notice and merely shrugged when my sister pointed it out to her and asked her if she minded. We later learned that her mother, who was an artist, had tried many times to give her daughter a hand with the decorating, but her efforts were for naught.

Some things skip a generation, and if my sister and I are like our grandmother, my daughter is very much like my mother. Especially in the wanderlust department. Mom loved the adventure of travel, and as Dad puts it, she dragged him to Greece to live for a couple of years when an opportunity to do that presented itself. And they took trips out west and through Canada to explore another of her passions, the culture of Native Americans. They also took a trip to the Ukraine, the land of my father’s ancestors.

First Congregtional Church Cemetery, Harwich, Massachusetts

Yes, I still miss her and her Seminole skirt. Had she lived I’m sure we would have found her rumored New England Native American ancestor by now. Yesterday I immersed myself in genealogical research, which was an occupation we both enjoyed. My goodness, what would she think of all the online research now available? When she died she was learning to use the online genealogical bulletin boards that seem so primitive now.

Well, I could go on, but this is long enough. Somehow I think my mother knows that she may be gone, but is by no means forgotten. And that I’ve learned that all we have is now, and that when all is said and done, that is enough.