Sunday, September 25, 2011


yesterday was a day of hard news
when i moved to this old farm
i wanted to know more about the landscape.
i had been living in the adirondacks, and now
north of the blue line there were things i wanted to know.
how to identify things. 
how the ecosystem here works.
so i took a class 
with the amazing dr john green at st lawrence university
we walked out every class
learning to dig and eat ground nuts
identify scats, made a bird skin
at yoga yesterday i asked janet how he was doing.
john's heart stopped in july while he was swimming, 
vacationing, in a vermont lake
(john's heart had stopped several times before)
he was 87. i was away, and missed this sad news.
i remember him with love, respect.
at our house these candies, sesame seeds and honey
the kids long ago named dr. green candy
john would hand them out while hiking
and he gave ian one once. 
after yoga there was a festival in the park
news of several friends with pancreatic cancer. 
another friend with a long illness.
they are learning to live
and die, with courage and grace. 
to janet, and to cait and chris and ed and becky
i send my love.
to those who knew john,
i share this:
i'm out skiing with wendy, meet john also on skis,
 with his beloved tuck, black labrador, big grin,
on the kip tract, in the glorious snow.
his 70-something boyish grin, a greeting and a hug,
a little chat, and we ski on.
goodbye john.


Valerianna said...

Life is so intense... and death.

I;m reading the "Poisonwood Bible" ... have you ever it? I;ve just spent the morning in Africa where people die from green mamba bites, here, we die differently, just got me thinking, though I suppose many die of hearts stopping in Africa, too.

Velma said...

v, oh, yes, poisonwood was a hard book, but hopeful, too. sometimes the african issues, so many people, so many countries, so much pain are too overwhelming. poisonwood personalized it a bit.

Cait Throop said...

That is so hard, Velma...It's amazing how many lives we touch...and living and dying with courage and grace...I guess that's what we are all trying to do. It was lovely to see you at the festival. Hugs in person are better than virtual!! And I'm sorry about John. I think maybe he is still skiing. xo

Velma said...

oh, cait, you are so amazing!

lotta said...

So sorry Velma. I am not sure what is worse – learning that you "missed" a dear friend's passing, or learning of other dear friends' illnesses. It is a struggle sometimes, to figure out what is fair and right. Sending many warm thoughts your way. And thank you for introducing John - he sounds like a remarkable man. I also think he is still skiing and smiling.

Velma said...

thanks, lotta. i think so, too.

aimee said...

A sweet goodbye, the candy in hand, though so much of the news is bitter. Thinking of you and all the rest. as Ira glass said last night, being a person is so hard.

Velma said...

aimee, you and ira are right, but oh, the glories, too.

Long Ridge Farm said...

i agree with lotta..
life is so full. rich. precious.
savor the times. john is smiling.
big hugs to you.

Velma said...

nancy, i agree. he is, with a twinkle in his eye!

Hannah said...

sad news indeed. those candies are wonderful and i still call them dr green's even today. i also share the history of that name with my friends, now the name is even more special bc it is his legacy to ian and myself.

Anonymous said...

Difficult times. BIG Hugs! Think about you often.

neki desu said...

dust to dust, ashes to ashes. in between kindness dignity and grace.

Velma said...

hannah, hugs, sweetie
margaret, i think of you, too, your wonderful smile--
neki, beautifully said

leFiligree said...

a death and painful illnesses are heavy things to be present in, but it's a beautiful gift to be there for someone.

Velma said...

l, yes.

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