Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I recently spent two days celebrating with a wonderful friend as she turned 100. She was a schoolteacher, a farmer’s wife, a gardener and, when in her 30s, learned to pilot a small plane. She and her husband were married for 70 years. Lora still loves to fish, lives alone, reads and drives her car without the aid of glasses, will admit (reluctantly) to being a little hard of hearing, but is still sharp of mind and good of heart. Here’s a portrait of her for Totally Optional Prompt’s suggestion: write about a person.

Lora Remembers

100 years of mornings,
of sunrises that spilled liquid gold
down Vermont’s rugged hillsides;
dew that sparkled on a million
summer spider webs; a cow’s warm
breath on her hands and the warmer
milk; fishing the wily creeks and still
ponds at her father’s side;
running up the hill to school;
McGuffy’s First Reader and lunch in a blue
lard bucket; boarding as the teacher;
rain that turned dirt roads to mud;
riding a hay rake, a baler, a plow;
70 years of marriage, of cooking and
washing and mending, of quilting
and knitting and sewing;
driving a Model-T;
flying solo in a small plane;
barn raisings and song fests and gramophones
and new-fangled radios; television and jet planes
and a cruise to Alaska 85 years after
that first morning 100 years ago.

She remembers 100 years of evenings,
of listening to the nightjar whistle,
of scarlet sunsets and sparking fireflies;
dashing to the half-moon door in the
darkness; carrying a lantern up the cold
back stairs; woodstoves and hand pumps
and knee-deep snows; sugaring-off in spring;
summer nights so hot you slept on a blanket
on the lawn; darkness so pure you could
count the stars; nights of terror when fire
struck; nights of music and dancing, of kitchen junkets;
of family suppers; lonely nights, nights of weeping
and missing her man; nights of wondering, pondering
the future, the meaning of it all; nights of remembering
family and old friends gone on before—

100 years of living behind her. Now she looks ahead.