ten years ago yesterday

Mary Dwyer in my boat, Tish and Mark and Selena in middle canoe ahead. 5/20/01 Rio Grande between Paseo del Norte and Montano bridges in Albuquerque

I save notes I have taken. Next to my bed last night I turned over the 3×5 card that has been in a basket for a long time and saw the date of ten years back, exactly. I have known these notes were there, but didn’t remember the timing at all. They are the notes taken from the canoe, of species and anecdotes, from a day spent on the river that flows a half-mile from my home – the Rio Grande.

One friend in the picture above, the one who is pointing with her outstretched arm, is now my boss. At least for one more month she’s my boss, before she retires as 27 year veteran biologist/educator for Youth and Family Programs at the NM Museum of Natural History and Science. Her action described in this photo describes her so well – patient enthusiasm about the world around her, doused with the biggest respect and open-eyed attention for any being in her path. Stop and pay proper unbiased attention. That’s how one feels in her presence. She listens. And I remember her being the one to spot and identify the whole list of birds and critters that I then voraciously scribbled on my notecard:

9:25 in
starting below Paseo bridge:
red wing blackbird
otter muskrat beaver?
duck white
reeds iris or cattails
ton of alfalfa
honeysuckle in russ. olive
canada goose?
mallard always
1000 ft. ahead of
hummingbird on russ olive
sandpiper? swallow
flying over H20 surface

(back of card)
coopers hawk
blue grosbeak?
another hummer (3rd)
little cottonwood tree
sight Montano @ 10:15
mallard on sentinel log
sandbar rest stop> pulled up 20 tam seedlings
black winged grosbeak
cinnamon teal duck
approach M. Bridge right
narrow between jetty (rt.)
& cottonwood snag (l.)
10:45 under bridge & lunch

Bosque Ed Guide canoe trip at lunch landing 5/20/01

I look at the card and remember my amazement that day at how many birds she knew without hesitation, special birds I was not at all familiar with – knew their whole long special names. I had known her for many years, had even gone on another canoe trip with her maybe 20 years before that (!) when we had worked together at another place and time. So she wasn’t someone I spent a lot of time with and thus could be impressed at her knowledge of the natural world.

She is someone who has been so supportive and most wonderful to work under and with this last year. When I saw the movie of Hildegaard Von Bingen’s life, I remarked to a mutual friend that Tish was like the Hildegaard to all of us in the Ed Dept – the one that had such an ordered, inspired and good nature that we all want to flock after, and call her our Mother. Someone very hard to say good-bye to, that’s for sure.

"Our River" by Cirrelda Snider-Bryan © 2007


2 Responses to “ten years ago yesterday”

  1. June 4, 2011 at 11:08 am

    What a wonderful post. First, it’s a lovely glimpse into a part of the Rio Grande I’ve never seen. I have a lightning whelk from the mouth of the Rio Grande perched on the edge of my bathtub and a necklace made of a piece of scoured shell from nearby banks, but I’ve seen the river only from a South Texas perspective.

    Your list is marvelous, not only for what it is in itself but also, for me, as an affirmation of something I instinctively felt when I began to write, three years ago. In briefest form, my little mantra is, Everything counts. Pay attention. And that’s what I’ve tried to do.

    Obviously, you and your friend have been paying attention, too.

  2. June 4, 2011 at 11:22 am

    What an interesting mantra you have. Reminds me of a comparison between two sayings that I don’t remember very well – Everything is sacred. / Nothing is sacred. Too bad I can’t remember, but it stuck with me from decades ago – like it’s two different ways to view life.

    It is wonderful to have your comment – from that other end of our rio – thank you! I will be visiting your site very soon!
    -Cirrelda in Albuquerque

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