Saturday, December 31, 2011
I still think of the time of day based on my childhood. Mom continued it after Dad died~ (especially the exact meal times)
4:30 AM the glare from Dad's bathroom window hits my eyes- he's awake
6:00 AM he wakes me
6:15 on the horse and riding (6:30 Mom does her yoga in her room)
8:20 school starts
12:30 - lunch on weekends - big meal of day - also on weekdays, Dad would come home to join Mom
5:15 supper for children- Mom reads aloud some ongoing saga
6:15 supper for Mom and Dad
8:15 LIGHTS OUT - (not 8 or 8:30, mind you)
(interspersed are the animal feeding times - cats, dogs, horses, cows, chickens, once pigs, the parakeets Dad captured...)
Friday, December 30, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Grandma hiked with a full suite of trailblazing supplies well into her 80s – clippers, ribbons, just in case... just in case the trail was overgrown, in case she discovered another route to a view, another path down the mountain. When I was around 5 years old, she pulled me into the woods behind Guestwick, handing over an extra pair of clippers to work alongside her. “There’s a spring back here somewhere, we need to bushwhack to find it.” And so we went, clipping along, placing ribbons as we progressed, slowly blazing a trail to the spring and to a neighboring property as Grandma identified birdcalls and pointed out various plants along the way. When we arrived at the spring, we scooped the clear water with a cut plastic milk jug, passing it between us and gulped.
“Isn’t this water more pure than anything you’ve tasted? Isn’t bushwhacking more exciting than following a trail?” And it was.
Around that time, I took to catching frogs, turning over rocks in search of bugs and salamanders, stocking ‘edible’ seeds in hand-built forts in the woods behind our house, and dreamed of becoming a naturalist, an explorer, a survivalist, joining the ranks of Rachel Carson, Tom Brown Jr. Edward Abbey, and Grandma.
The very flat fruitcake that Salley made that Mom rescued from the garbage pail (and we ate >> goes without saying).
The enormous number of huge pumpkins that self-seeded in the graveyard and we (Mom, Dad, me) had to eat; every one of them (bread, muffins, various puddings slyly concealed under mounds of other stuff), on and on and on until Daddy finally rebelled with a roar.
Poke-weed. And that other weed that I have mercifully forgotten the name of*. That we ate. And ate. And ate. Until Daddy finally rebelled with a roar.
Dad's boxer shorts re-used as a substitute for paper towels. (Old ones; not the ones he was still wearing ... I hope.)
[*Addendum: now I remember -- the other weed was Lamb's Quarters.]
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
My mother was lucky to have many friends into her old age, and particularly her friend, Boo Dulaney, who visited every week and walked with her around the garden, sharing her interest in the plants and birds. Boo, Mom would tell me over and over, knows all the birdsongs. There was nothing like calling her on the Friday or Saturday afternoon after Boo had visited. Her voice would be lighter, her memory sharper, her hearing clearer. Before she died, she showed me a sweater she had specially chosen for Boo, a sweater covered with birds. Do you think Boo will like it? she asked again and again.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
I used to have to fly to Boston two or three time a year to see an eye doctor--and sometimes for eye surgeries. I had 5 surgeries, and I was usually pretty sick afterwards. Mom, who loved to read aloud, would take the trips and recovery time as an opportunity to read more of the Greek myths or from the Iliad and the Odyssey. (She majored in Ancient Greek and Archeology and studied with Richard Lattimore at Bryn Mawr College.) She liked to tell me what the Greek letters meant and what certain words spelled, esp. if the words were close to English words. Sometimes we would visit the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and tour the exhibit of the Ancient World. Afterwards, she would take me to the store and ask if I wanted a small item or a card. I always wanted one of those bowls of the athletes training from behind the glass cases or a marble statue or an ancient coin from behind the glass cases.
She also collected old books. This is an excerpt from a page of one of the many ancient books that filled the house, books and more books.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
I was a little worried about wearing those yard pants to the pool, especially when friends asked me why I was swimming in my underpants. Of course I would explain that these weren't underpants. They were yard pants. But I wasn't all that convincing.
In my memory, everyone else was in a suit, but I was still in the yard pants for a while there.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
I remember how Dad was afraid of heights. He was particularly afraid of the ladder trail on Newport Mountain. Mom loved to send him photographs of all of us climbing Newport. Wish you were here!
When Jim's father, Glenn, first visited us in Maine, Mom took him hiking in the Black Mountains. Glenn came home and informed me I should warn the uninitiated about my mother. Evidently she had taken him on one of her new cliff trails, the highlight of which was the place where you had to lean over the edge of a cliff, grab onto a tree and let it slowly "glide you down to the ground," as Mom put it.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Otherwise, why stay indoors? Everything she loved was outdoors: her cows, her garden, her sailing, her hiking...
Years ago, I arrived late at night in Sorrento, Maine, having driven a ruthless 8 hours with 4 young ones, ages 5-10. Exhausted, I pulled in to Guestwick to find: no food in the refrigerator, unmade beds, and - in my perhaps warped memory- not even enough eating utensils for everyone. ... It was so startling to realize that my mother didn't even notice that anything was missing. In fact, I believe in the end that I was the only one who did. The next morning, the children were swept outside to the magic of the shore, the boats, the islands, the trails. The outside. Mom/Grandma shared what she loved and the children fell in love with her Maine, too.
Sheila tells it: "She was an explorer from her youngest years..."
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
When I came into her life, Kristin and Thor did too. I cannot adequately express how appreciative I have always been of how she so warmly welcomed all three of us into her life and family. The importance of that to us cannot be overestimated. We were truly privileged.
My very best wishes to every member of the extended Heyward/Chafee/Gamble clan at this time as you celebrate Mrs. Heyward's life.
I was reminded of how, many years ago, when I was in first grade, my piano teacher told me that Mom was like a running note. She pointed to the stick figures in the music book. I quickly began pointing to all the stick figures in the book, saying, she's also walking-up-a-hill Mom, stretching-Mom, standing-on-your-head Mom . . .
So I decided to do a post of just a few of the many Moms . . .
Monday, December 19, 2011
Jane connected with all generations of our family-we’re very fortunate.
As children, Jane and Jan spent weekends together at Laneway Farm in Taunton, but the two really didn’t get to know each other until later, in the summer of 1932, when Jane arrived in Switzerland with her mother and Aunt. Jan, who had been living with a governess in Neufchatel since the fall of 1931, was more than delighted to see her. Janie had come over for the year to learn French.
Together the two girls and the two Elizabeths spent the summer hiking near Zermatt. Jan said that Janie was “fearless” and helped her conquer the steep trails and ambitious heights as they savored Switzerland’s views.
In the academic year that followed, Janie lived at Villa Yema outside Neufchatel while Jan was in town with her mother and siblings, who had came over that August. The two would get together most weekends, with Jan riding trolley up to the Villa for Friday night dinners.
I now realize that Jane had something to do with my sailing career, which began in the mid 1960’s. When I was nine or ten, Jimmy drafted me as crew on the Wee Scot, Night & Day. He probably would have been better off sailing solo. Trying to impress him I’d often yell “starboard” to approaching boats, regardless of the situation, and if we heeled more than 15 degrees I’d retreat from my hiking duties in a panic, sure that the end was imminent. Miraculously, my contract was renewed the following summer. In retrospect, I’m sure Jimmy wouldn’t have taken me on without intervention from his mother.
Jane was always good-natured and even keeled. Once, Jimmy invited me for a sleepover at Guestwick and I remember how cool it felt to be hanging out with a teenager. The elation died the following morning when I woke to hear Jimmy say, “Your bed is covered with blood.” I’d had a nosebleed and ruined the sheets. Mortified, I went downstairs to receive punishment from Jane. She simply smiled, took the soiled sheets and said, “Now, what would you like for breakfast? Cereal?”
For a couple of summers, Jane hosted delicious lunches at Guestwick for the teenage crowd. Louisa, Linc, Brucie and the Huber boys were there. I can remember conversation about hiking, sailing, politics, the war in Vietnam, and colleges as we drank that delicious ice tea with mint and ate roast chicken or beef. It was a great way for all of us to connect as we raced through August, but it was especially generous of Jane- I’m sure that sitting around a dining room table wasn’t her top priority.
At some point in the 70’s Hank Sharpe produced the film “The Maine Connection” as a contemporary take of the “Peterborough Pearls.” Jane kindly agreed to let him use her car, Foxhaven, in the film. A few days later Jane was strolling across the meadow north of Redicut to discover Foxhaven roaring up the dock road at 55 m.p.h., with a chase vehicle a few feet behind. She screamed, “Hank, Hank. What is going on!” Hank put down his movie camera to explain that this was a critical moment in the film, but Jane would have none of it. “This wasn’t what I expected. I want my car back.” I think that’s the only time I saw Jane get agitated, but even then she was controlled.
In the 1990’s, Heather and I rented Ref Roof for several summers. The phone would often ring before 8 a.m.; it was Janie. She’d ask a few quick questions, excitedly and then get to the point. “Is Alex there please?” I’d put Alex, age 8, on the line and listen as she organized a morning hike to the Anvil trail for the children of Weirhaven. “Please tell Claire. Meet at the Red Barn at 8:30. Your parents are welcome.” She’d hang up. Sometimes we would come, but more often not because it was better to let her work her magic. We’ve always loved hiking as a family and we can thank Janie for getting us started.
Instead, my mother attracted fun people. And sought adventure. Only a year ago, I was visiting her with Daniel and she suggested we head out on a drive. Because her years of exploring the mountains around her had resulted in friendships with many landowners, we never questioned her direction, as we would now drive freely onto people's private property. This time we were driving through the "locked" gate onto Dave Matthew's land (she was good friends with his mother, "Val"). The road started out paved. It wound past open meadows and an old barn. After the barn, the road headed steeply downhill across a meadow - it was now dirt and much less travelled. "Keep going!" my mother insisted. At the bottom of the hill, the "road" took a sharp left and you could see a creek running alongside. The road deteriorated as we progressed and my mother became more impatient and determined "Go! just keep going!" It became much higher on one side than the other, and the trees, roots and rocks closed in on either side and from below. Finally after climbing a little rise of muddy red soil, it dropped below us: you could see ahead a bridge over the deep stream: wide enough for maybe 1/2 a car... and then nothing... a tangle of branches. I realized at that point - yikes! We have my mother unable to walk in a car in a place completely incapable of describing to anyone, should we be stuck here! (that's assuming a cell phone would have worked in that jungle). I got out of the car and directed Daniel as he carefully backed up the steep slope - it would have been impossible to do it without 2 people - one to direct and one to drive. The mud, the narrow angled road, it was tricky. My heart was really pumping. After it was over, after we were able to finally turn around and get out of there, Mom looked so pleased with herself. She had had an adventure! Later, she said to me, "Boo tells me that road really doesn't go through." As if she needed Boo to tell her...
Sunday, December 18, 2011
An avid nature lover, hiker, and gardener, Mom was always trying to educate anyone who would listen about the birds, flowers, trees, rocks, and more. A few weeks ago, when she walked slowly on her canes around the garden, she pointed out every tree, bird, bush and flower and asked me if I knew their names. (I didn't.)
As a little girl, I always loved it when she pointed out the Jack-in-the-pulpits, and said, See Jack, there? And see his pulpit?
When Suzanne was in first grade, Mom sent her a bug shirt for her birthday. It was a huge shirt with all kinds of insects on it, and it quickly became her favorite sleep shirt. She liked to pick her favorite bug-of-the night before going to sleep from "Grandma's bug shirt."
Mom used to take her rottweiller, Loki, with her wherever she went. Loki would ride around in the back of her car, often with his head sticking out of the window, ears flapping in the wind.
If she stopped for anything, and if she left Loki in the car, he would wait for just so long before jumping out of the window and going to look for her. This was particularly funny when she was grocery shopping. You would see her in the Safeway, pushing her cart, the dog padding along behind her. Half the time Mom didn't even the see the dog until she got to the checkout counter. Loki, she would say. What are you doing here?