Sunday, January 29, 2012

labor day 2010

labor day 2010

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chairs in the garden

When Mom could not walk as far, never mind as fast, as she did all her life, we got sturdy metal chairs that we set up around her garden. With the aid of her canes she would walk from one chair to the next. The chairs were moved about so that while she rested she could enjoy seasonal blooms and scents. On good days she could proudly progress all the way around the house on a route that went from chair to chair. She made that full journey ten days before she died! 
Her garden gave her such joy when she could no longer tackle her beloved mountains. She observed her garden as closely and with as much pleasure as she had observed the plants and birds on her more far-flung walks. The chairs in her garden were her equivalent to the rock faces that she sought in the mountains - worth a sit to enjoy the view!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Cows. I think I might have spent more time with Mom and her cows than any of my siblings. I had my own cow, Misty Princess, that I trained, and for a number of years I went to shows and easily won first place for looking at the judge steadily and stopping in the right position. It took very little talent. I think I had an idea that I might enjoy my cow like I enjoyed my horse or my dog. But cows are just slow. I think it remained a mystery to me, even after all the time I spent with Mom and her cows, how anyone could love them so much. She knew each and every one, how it milked, its geneology. She cared for the animals. And she loved to drink the raw milk.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tribute from Inge Chafee

For thirty years Jane was for me an integral part of summers in Sorrento. She opened my eyes to possibilities which the Francis Chafees simply did not see. They did not walk. She did.

In the summer of 1971 I spent several months at the Shoebox with our then three-year old Louisa and Baby Clio. Dick came now and then, but was mostly away doing research at various libraries. 

Early on Jane drifted by and wondered whether I was interested in doing some walking with her. She was aware that I had a baby sitter (provided by my mother-in-law with Junior’s help) and declared that we would go out that afternoon, taking the children and their sitter with us. Thus I got to see why one needed a car with four-wheel drive to get to the beach of Donnell Pond. Once there, we installed the three young ones on the beach and Jane told them we would be back in about two hours. What followed was the first of many ascents of Schoodic Mountain from “the other side” over the rock slide. Jane’s purpose was to reestablish the path that her father had marked many years ago, but which had been obliterated by a fire that had burned the side of Schoodic facing Donnell Pond. Once on top, I had to hold a surveyor’s pole. Jane disappeared among the burnt remnants of the woods and when she shouted, I was to wave my pole and shout back so that she could determine our respective positions. It took several trips for her to leave sufficient signs to mark the descent to Donnell Pond. At first she used cans with spray paint, I think. As their nozzles tended to clog, she changed to a little hatchet (or was it the other way round?). In subsequent years there were many climbing parties in which everyone carried clippers to improve the path, until the boys of a summer camp discovered and marked it properly. 

I admired Jane not only for her uncanny knowledge of the lay of the land but also for her clear judgement of people which she shared. I was grateful for her candor. 

Very sorry there will be no more walking with her.

Inge Chafe

Butter butter everywhere . . . And how the house did stink!

One of my funny memories of Mom was of Dad describing Mom eating lobster.

But it wasn't just Jane, Dad said. It was Jane and all the Maine relatives.

You think they're perfectly civilized until you see them eating lobster . . .

First they boil the lobsters alive, right in front of you.
Then they serve them, steaming on a plate, shell and all.
Then there's a lot of loud cracking and snapping as they break the lobsters open with bare hands, dip the flesh in butter
and begin sucking and slurping, sucking and slurping
and then cracking and snapping
more and more . . .

Even the little tiny claws have to be dipped and sucked, dipped and sucked.
Afterwards, you have to mop your hair, face, arms, legs, feet, the floor . . . There's butter driblets and lobster juice everywhere.
And that smell of boiled lobster . . .

Mom laughed and laughed at this description.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Great-grandma Jane

Mom with her first great grandchild Wyeth and his mother Kristin. Mom loved babies, but she loved them even more when their legs were long enough to follow her into the woods where she could share her love of nature.

Remembering Jane Heyward

When I got the phone call that Jane Heyward had passed away, I sat there for a few moments.  Then I put on my hiking shoes and drove myself to the Fortune’s Cove Preserve.   I walked up the steep trail to the point where the path turns and runs along the contour of the mountain and I stopped.  It was a clear December afternoon. A bright blue sky shone through the bare trunks of the oaks, hickories and poplars and it took me right back to one of the first times that Jane took me here.  She was considering a gift of this property to my employer, The Nature Conservancy, and she was showing my colleague and me around.  At that time, the trail went straight up the mountain, meandering on and off the boundary line.   For the first of what would be many times, Jane was up ahead, waiting for us to catch up. 

Later, as more of my colleagues got involved in this project, Jane helped us lay out the trail for public use.  As you might expect, TNC staff tend to be a pretty fit bunch, but we would return to the office at the end of the day, at once exhausted and inspired by Jane’s ability to scoot straight up the face of the mountain.  Today’s trail, though strenuous, was a compromise with her.  With much persuasion, she agreed to let us construct a gentler path with more switchbacks. Not everyone is capable of scaling the hills like she was.

I have been fortunate to get to know Jane better and to go on many walks with her over the past decade.  She is one of the most positive people I have ever spent time with, and I have learned much from her.  My sense is that she had two priorities in life.  The first was her family and friends.  She frequently updated me on each of her children and every year would send me pictures of them along with her extended family.  She loved to point out the photograph of Fortune’s Cove, taken by Julie. Once when I was visiting her at home, she shared with me a book of poetry by her daughter that had recently been published.  It is one of my lesser regrets that I did not have a tape recorder to capture her distinctive voice reading aloud one of Nin’s “Dick and Jane” poems, all the while laughing mischievously.  

Her second priority was land conservation.  She acquired property in places that she loved and then she protected it.  In her life she placed thousands of acres in conservation easement, and through her donation to The Nature Conservancy, has made more than 1,000 of those stunning acres available to the hiking public.

On this afternoon, I hiked the lower trail, which takes the hiker to rock outcrops that overlook bucoolic Fortune’s Cove.  The path crosses musical streams.  This time of year after a rain, small waterfalls cascade down rocks and boulders here and there, making the preserve look the way a Japanese garden must want to look when it grows up.  

The trees in this forest are only about 40 years old. You might notice boulders the size of cars scattered throughout the woods and streams. That in itself makes this an interesting place if you understand the recent natural history here.  In August of 1969, what remained of Hurricane Camille stalled over this small part of Nelson County where it joined up with 2 other weather systems and dumped over 31 inches of rain in a several hour period   Now recognized by the National Weather Service as one of the Top 10 Storms of the Twentieth Century, more rain fell that night than meteorologists previously thought was possible in an event that some scientists estimate will occur only once every thousand years.  In addition to the lives that were lost in the county that night, thousands of years of soil and decades-old orchards and forests washed down the mountains.  Thanks to Jane, this property will never be developed and we’ll have a chance to see what happens after nature strips everything down to bedrock and starts over. 

Though she suffered from painful sciatica in her last years, she continued to walk around her lovely yard each day, enjoying her garden and trees.  She told me earlier this fall that she believed walking had kept her alive. 

Among other things, Jane introduced me to the writings of John Muir, another great walker.   I think of them both with gratitude this evening as I reach the end of the trail, the sky reddening in the west.  

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” - Muir
Tribute written by Linda Crowe

Monday, January 9, 2012

Brown Shoes

As a former teacher herself, Mom had very little use for most of the teachers I had in grade school. And she had less use for the school rules.

When I was in first grade, as part of the dress code, we were supposed to wear brown shoes --like loafers. Mom insisted on sending me to school in red tennis shoes anyhow. She said it was absolutely ridiculous to put me in brown shoes when I was going to be racing around on a blacktop during recess. So every day Mrs. Wallace, my teacher, sent a note home with me, telling my mother that she needed to buy me some brown shoes, and every day Mom laughed at the note.

"Girls and boys should run around at recess. Hard shoes are not good for running, and you are not wearing hard brown shoes," Mom said. Every day, for the first weeks of school Mrs. Wallace would complain about my shoes. She also said my skirts were more than two inches above my knees. And my hair needed to be combed. (I had a permanent cow lick that Mrs. Wallance once hosed down with Aqua Net.) But the worst was the day when my mom picked me up, and Mrs. Wallace came to the car, wobbling on her orange high heels, to tell Mom that my tennis shoes were caked with cow manure. "What cow manure?" my mother asked, looking at my shoes which were coated with brown crusts and had a little bit of hay sticking out the sides. "Well," Mom said after a moment of silence. "It looks like she's wearing brown shoes today, doesn't it?"

Sunday, January 8, 2012

[crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch .... crunch, crunch]
[crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch ... sip ... crunch, crunch]
[sip ... crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch]
[crunch, crunch, crunch ... sip ... expectant silence ... restless fidgeting ... sound of Earnest whistling in the distance ... DING-A-LING ... thump, thumpety, thump; mad stampede down the stairs]

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Hearing Mom giggle was the best. Julie or Nin could tell stories ~ silly stories that had us all in stitches. Mom loved to overhear. To giggle along.
Every year, in response to the many Xmas cards she sent out, each with a photo of the 6 of us children lined up more or less awkwardly, she got many letters back. Of all of them, I remember the one that made her giggle: the person had sent a photo of himself from the back. I might not have found it funny, but she opened it and just giggled.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

There is a really nice remembrance of Mom in this week's Nelson County Times by Erin Hughey-Comers (thank you Erin!). Here is an extract:

"She taught me that learning happens best in action, through experience, that you never forget something you learned with your heart beating in your ears and the blood rushing through your head, that the context of a walk and a friendship means that the shapes of leaves and the sounds of birds still come clear in your mind years later."

To read the full article, click HERE.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Once when Mom and I were out clearing a new trail, she asked what I thought we should do if we met some nutty, scary person while we were out, alone, in the woods (there had recently been some women attacked on the nearby Appalachian Trail). I said, "We don't have to worry about that, Mom: we are the nutty scary people!" She looked at me, completely uncomprehending.

This was during her machete stage. She's always loved clippers and saws, but for a while there, she moved up to big knives. She had found some place that sold both saws and machetes complete with leather sheaths with belt loops. As we spoke, she was "wearing" two leather sheaths so long that they dragged the ground, one with a saw; the machete from the other being in her hand -- which she waved about absent mindedly every time she stopped to talk. Both I and her large Rottweiler kept a respectful distance and eye on the blade. Behind us was a trail of total devastation (she used a two-handed woodpeckerish stroke with the machete which was too big for her to manage one-handed).

Anyway, I could not convince her that she, with the knive(s), the dog, the devastation (and the pork-pie hat) could be scary to anybody.

[For my Birthday that year, Mom gave me one of those massive hand saws (to her amazement, I declined a machete). If I ever need to cut a three-foot-thick tree by hand, I am ready.]