We exchanged pleasantries, sitting in a cozy room that was flush with ambiance and age; names, information, insights. The room was more a parlor than a lobby, with a bowed window looking out toward the river and the muted tones of music gathering us in.
After a time of conversation, we gathered in a row, like schoolgirls heading to English class. We walked down the hall to the room of the woman I would be visiting with, a centenarian named Virginia.
I will tell you about Virginia one day. For now, however, I will tell you about where my short conversation with a remarkable woman in her 106th year steered my thoughts as I travelled along the road back home, in a pouring winter rain.
Virginia was a gardener of some renown. She still recalls the lines of poetry she learned as a student some ninety years ago. Though frail and unable to see, her mind is sharp and her words well spoken. I thought about them as I drove. Once home, I settled in, wrapped in a blanket against the damp, chilling day, a hot cup of tea in hand, and I spent some time with another centenarian, Stanley Kunitz.
Mr. Kunitz’s book, “The Wild Braid”, is a though-provoking journey through his gardens, his poetry, his prose. It is a small volume of conversations, thoughts, and a generous sprinkling of his poetry.
The book was a gift to me, some years ago. Debra, who knows my love of gardening and appreciation of poetry, sent it to me. A kind and thoughtful gesture from a special friend. I was not familiar with Stanley Kunitz. The book was an awakening to yet another U. S. Poet Laureate and weaver of words.
As I re-read passages from “The Wild Braid”, I thought of lives well led, and led well. Of men and of women who live life to the fullest, in good times and in bad, who garden and write and do a myriad of other things, throughout their lives. They take their places here on earth and they make it a better place.