|Yes, that's a real tree...here in Davis...at the Arboretum.|
Today I went into Caroline's 4th grade class to share her great grandmother's Native American basket collection.
Normally, those baskets sit on a shelf in our den...
over-looked, dusty, forgotten.
But they tell a tale of weavers and people from long ago...
of a lady who loved to travel...
who collected baskets and carefully recorded the date she bought them, the type of basket and
the place where the basket was from...
that precious information, lost long ago.
I shared what I knew of Mary Compton Goni.
An avid bird-watcher.
An independent woman in a time when there weren't that many of those...
or maybe there were and we just don't know their names.
She created a place of refuge for her family
called Silver Lake.
Today, when I was talking about this amazing lady, I mentioned to the 4th graders that Mary had written a book about her life when she was 91 years old called Mary Remembers.
When Mary approached her 100th birthday, I took the time to read her thoughts and her amazing memories.
What a gift she gave.
Her stories of growing up in rural California and the remembrances of things once so important and now mostly forgotten, gave me a glimpse into a time and place I knew nothing about.
As I was telling the kids, they wanted to check her book out...ready to read her story.
If only Mary Remembers was at the local library.
Or available through Amazon.
Or easy to find on a Kindle.
Mary Remembers was printed privately as a gift for her family.
Mary printed only a hundred copies.
Tonight as I was reading it with Caroline, I turned to the last page...
wondering how she closed such an epic life.
She concludes with this gorgeous poem by Alfred Joyce Kilmer,
explaining that Alfred Joyce Kilmer was an American poet born in 1886 and
killed in the First World War.
I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair
Upon whose bosom snow has lain
Who intimately lives with rain
Poems are made by fools like me
But only God can make a tree.
This poem, long one of my favorites too, touched me tonight in a hauntingly beautiful way.
I never knew she found solace here too.
Mary's final words to us.
Simple and sacred in its truth.
What final words would you choose?
I might have to vote for Mary's.
But that's the fun of writing...
I still have time to tumble a few around, wrestle with a phrase or two...
time to ponder and wonder and enjoy the beauty of words and ideas.
Time to read more poems.
Time to linger in the language.
Time to savor and cherish...
so grateful for this precious time.
I would never know Mary's echo except that she took the care to write it down.
Her experiences, her reflections, her favorite verses shared in print.
A tiny piece of herself.
Why do we hold those so close?
Does your family know your favorite verse?
Your favorite song?
Your favorite poem or book or writer or artist?
Don't you think it's time you shared?