Thursday, November 13, 2008

Still Learning from My Mom...

I had one final day with my Mom in Maine before we got in the car and made our way south to my grandparents in Pennsylvania. Following our time at the Rachel Carson Refuge, we went on another little hike out to Wells Beach. It was a bit cold and windy... perfect beach weather for a former Northern California girl. And of course, there were rocks everywhere. I loved it! Among all rocks and amid the tide pools there were little snails leaving trails everywhere. Crawling under the rocks, following one another in along the trails of sand.

Before we headed down to Pennsylvania, we had two more tasks to accomplish. The first involved my learning (or re-learning) something new from my mom. I brought some fabric with me that I had bought in Guatemala. Hand weaved, extremely soft denim like material that is generally used for women's skirts. I had been wondering what to do with it, so I brought it east to my mom and her sewing machine. Okay, don't laugh. It was a simply project. We just made place mats and napkins. But still... I sewed! On a sewing machine! I may have to get one of those things.
The second task involved my seeing what my mom has learned. I was the first to begin a Christian in my family. Others followed... my sister a year later and my mom a few years after that. I soon was involved in leadership, eventually heading to seminary and becoming an ordained minister. My family has often seen me as a spiritual leader. I found out this week, though, that my mom has become quite the spiritual leader in her congregation. Mom was leading a bible study in the other room as I was sewing. I overheard some of the discussion. Enough to hear my mom offering her insights and advice, modeling a mature faith and challenging them to healthy, whole relationships. Enough to hear the responses of those attending who clearly looked up to her. So now it is my turn to say how proud I am of her.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Historic Homes and Wildlife Refuges

Down the street, past the historic mill and the old cemetery, is Hamilton House. Built in 1785, Hamilton House sits on a bluff overlooking the Salmon Falls River. Once owned by the Tyson family, apparently they used to build their own pirate ships in a little swale alongside the house... Wait, "pirate" is not the politically correct word here. It was actually legal at the time to raid certain ships and claim their goods on behalf of mother England. In case you are not aware, piracy runs in my family. The Deasy's had their own quay in Clonakilty, Ireland which they used as their home base for raiding ships off the coast. Perhaps my own good girl concern for rules is some form of penance for early family sins!

Behind the house are some beautiful little English gardens. In the summer they hold concerts there. We wandered a bit in the gardens before heading back home. For more information on the Hamilton House see

Have I shown any pictures of fall leaves yet? Yes, one of the main purposes of the trip (other than seeing my mother, of course!) was to see the New England fall colors. There were definitely some beautiful trees along the river next to my Mom's house, but we saw the most spectacular leaves as we drove through North Berwick on our way to the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge.

Pictures really can't do justice to the explosion of color. My favorites were often the ones in the midst of turning... with bright red and vibrant green all mixed together.

The Rachel Carson refuge was not bursting with color, but it was beautiful. A wheel-chair accessible path wound through the trees and then out along a ridge overlooking the salt water marshes and estuaries that make their way in from the Atlantic.

The sunlight would peak through the leaves... the leaves would take on a translucent glow. Beautiful.

I remembered hearing about Rachel Carson in the Wilderness and Faith Class I participated in last year. She was a marine biologist and environmentalist in the early part of the 20th century (www.fws/gov/northeast/rachelcarson) and served as editor in Chief for the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Following World War II, Carson wrote about the connection between pesticides and biological damage. She was one of the first to really argue for the connection between humans and the rest of creation in modern times and to call us to treat the environment with respect and care.

I am so grateful for those who decided years ago to set apart tracts of land as parks and refuges throughout the United States. They are my saving grace in the midst of the city of Chicago... and they have always been where I flee to seeking my own refuge... with the wildlife... with creation... with the creator.