Saturday, December 31, 2011

safety pins

I think my first memory of Mom is of her changing baby Nin's diaper. Nin was this tiny pink form which Mom laid over this large cloth diaper, which she wrapped loosely around her legs and then pinned with these enormous safety pins. I'm not sure why I was so struck by the pins, but in a photo I have of Lisa, Jimmy and I playing in the sandbox (probably same year), Lisa and I are wearing our yard pants; dear Jimmy has these oversized shorts on that are held up by...yes, an oversized safety pin.
Mom ate the green stuff in the middle of her lobster.
She ate the green stuff in the middle of my lobster.
I think she ate everybody's green stuff.
When finished she had a green mustache.


The ROUTINE at Foxhaven
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)
7:15 breakfast
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

Mom and Dad's favorite cake

Especially good with a bowl of freshly-made, thick, chilly custard.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bushwhacking with Grandma

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.

... and all those angel food cakes.

Day after day. They were ... chewy.

Until Daddy rebelled with a roar ...

waste not ...

Mom's cheese. The smell ...

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

A friend in Boo

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

A year and a half ago Jock and I bought some land on which my mother had made many trails about twenty-five years ago. As we have explored the land we have discovered her old ribbons over and over again. Sometimes we have been able to follow a series of them and to discern the trail that she had made. It was always near a beautiful stone wall, up to a secluded pond, and, best of all to her, to a rock outcropping with a view.
She also always had multiple routes to the same point. She hated to walk up and back on the same trail, much preferring loops. When we find a new ribbon still buried in the bark of a tree it is like getting a silent hello from Mom. I share her love of the woods and of making trails. When I find a ribbon, I know that we are sharing our love.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Still more on yard pants

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.

More on "yard pants"

Mom did not limit us to the yard as the only location where we could wear "yard pants". She also allowed us to wear them instead of bathing suits when we went to swim at the Farmington Country Club pools - much to the horror of the more staid members. When I got to be six years old, she was told that I had to wear a full bathing suit. At that point we all shifted to suits.

yard pants

Did Mom invent the word "yard pants" for the outfit her 5 girls wore all summer long pre school age? Yard pants were puffy underpants = all that was needed for hot days spent playing in the sandbox or splashing in the creek until the water mocassin appeared.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Last visit with a child of mine

I wanted my children to know my mother. I wanted them to pick up some essence from her. In Samsun's last visit with her in October of 2011, he somehow "got" what I wanted - to experience someone determined to live life fully - even to the end she loved engaging with people and hearing about their lives (adventures especially), she loved sharing her garden, she loved exploring, she loved "getting out". Last October,the three of us took a drive up to the Blue Ridge and drove south where we "didn't have to pay". At her insistence we followed the wrong road until it dead ended. But the scenery was breathtaking - fall golden sculpted shapes - Mom full of her stories about Humpback and Appalachian trail hikers - chatting on and on, her enthusiasm still glimmering for her beloved mountains. By the time we drove back, Samsun was seduced by the scenery and her stories. Why don't we live here? "I love Grandma".

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mom visits me in college

My mother never seemed to express any interest in the college application process. But once I was located in Colorado, then she mentioned how much she loved skiing. Sure enough, she was fine with 8 college aged skiers for company. When I transferred to Vermont, she realized that there were some dairy farms there that she had been wanting to visit. It was an occasion for a nice meal with, again, at least 8 of my college friends...

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

inside and outside

In my experience, my mother valued the indoors for one purpose - reading. She loved to read.
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.

one of Mom's ribbons

[photo taken today]

Make Way for Heywards

I remember Mom taking us all to the pool or on the plane or . . . Even going to church was such a production. I sometimes wonder how she did it-- and so much more.

dairy farmer Mom

In the 1970's, I had the privilege of accompanying my mother on a trip to New Zealand where she was attending one of the world Ayrshire (cow) Association meetings. Up until then, I had thought that the extent of Mom's association in the farming world was the people who helped her on her farm or who she knew through breeding. Little was I prepared for the fan club on the airplane from LA to Aukland. The association must have booked the flight for the US group. Person after person was so thrilled to stop by our seats and chat with my mother, so pleased to finally meet her in person. For years, she wrote a column in the magazine, the Ayrshire Digest. On that airplane, she was the star. Prior to that flight, I had no idea how many people appreciated her offerings - teaching them about breeding and milking and organic farming.

Aunt Sheila recalls

Sheila was telling me this funny story about her sister, "Janey": When Janey was really little, she would just wander out the door and down the street (can't you see it?). So her mother's solution was to put a little bell on a string around her neck. That way the governess could find her. ( Where was the governess anyway?)
Sheila tells it: "She was an explorer from her youngest years..."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hunter on a long garden walk with her grandmother last summer

Happy 91rst birthday!

Mom walking in her garden in 2006

Ever since the first day I met Mrs. Heyward (as I always called her despite close friendship and wonderful times together), when she demonstrated her ability at age 60 to do headstands in my living room, I have been extremely fond of her. In recent years I have much looked forward to an annual visit in Sorrento with her and with whatever other family members might join us. The many and varied times with her were truly special.

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.

Ben Emory
Last night I was trying to decide how best to talk about Mom to friends who never met her. I found myself trying to decide which Mom to describe.

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

Christmas card bowl

One of my favorite parts of Christmas was reading all the many many Christmas letters Mom would receive - after sending out quantities herself. Not only did the overflowing red bowl of letters contain photos and stories from people I knew, but also from children she had taught in first grade (before she was married) who kept in touch with her year after year, even into their own years of marriage and family~
Remembering Jane

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.

never a dull moment

I used to say in amazement, every time I visited my mother, up until and including the very end, that there was never a dull moment while visiting her. In her later years, I would expect that there would be nothing to do, visiting someone who could barely walk, barely hear and drift in and out of conversations. But, no - it was either the unusual people that happened by, or the fun conversations with her caretakers, or ... her. From early childhood, when the stories she chose to read us at dinner were based on maximum excitement, or the ski trips that she lugged all six of us along and then took herself down the black diamond trails... over and over her love of adventure led was the driving force. In fact, over time, the one word that was most condemning was for her to describe someone as "dull". You can hear the dread in her voice as she would say the word. Someone could be crazy or weird or even criminal (remember the escapee she took riding at Taunton? The glint in her eye whenever she told the story?), but dull was the worst.
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

Three Memories

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?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Remembering Mom

Our mother, Jane Heyward, passed away on December 12, 2011. She was 94. This blog is intended to help us honor her memory.

With family in Sorrento 2010

In her beloved garden