Spring Storm Brings Snow Beauty To Madison Isthmus

The snow is not exactly what we may wish for in the middle of April, but since the storm is here we can at least enjoy the beauty.  There are several inches of very wet snow–perhaps four inches near B.B. Clarke Beach–and with that precipitation comes some outstanding images to marvel at in walks.   I can also say that the birds are active and singing.   Continued snow this evening and then a warm-up that will have all this gone in less than 48 hours.  So relax, look about, take it in—this is sweet!

My Partner Had Lunch With First Lady Barbara Bush

My partner, James, wrote what is nothing short of an amazing tribute to former First Lady Barbara Bush.  This is one of my favorite stories he has shared over the years.

I wasn’t quite eighteen years old yet.  I was busy applying for scholarships and grants to fund my college experience.  Anne must have said something particularly glowing about me to the Literacy Volunteers people, or perhaps to Alan.  One day, in the mail when I got home from school was an unexpected surprise.   I was invited to have lunch at the Blaine House, the Governor’s mansion in Maine, at the behest of Governor John “Jock” McKernan, Jr. to celebrate the work I was doing as the State’s youngest literacy educator.  It was an odd invitation, though.  The Governor and his wife, Senator Olympia Snowe, stated that they were going to be unable to attend.  The Governor was mourning the loss of his son.  Peter had died only a few months earlier of a previously undetected heart problem. He had collapsed during baseball practice at Dartmouth College. He was 20 years old.  No, the luncheon invitation wasn’t for the Governor or his wife, the Senator.  He hoped that I wouldn’t mind having lunch with a friend of his.


The Blaine house is an elegant old mansion.  We were excited to be able to visit it, and dreamt of meeting the former Governor Brennan there and play a round of billiards with him.  I was a fairly good shot, though held no illusion that I would ever win against the famed billiard shark that the former Governor was.  We were instead, greeted by the Blaine House staff, given a tour of the Governor’s mansion and shown to a small private dining room.  We still had no idea as to whom we were to lunch with that day.

I had the distinct honor of sharing lunch with one of Maine’s most famous residents.  A gentleman in a nice tuxedo, white gloves, came in to the dining room and asked if I would mind rising to meet the First Lady of the United States, Barbara Bush.  Blue Dress.  Large pearl earrings and stunning string of pearls around her neck.  White gloves.  She embraced my Mother and me fondly and said that she was so pleased be able to meet me at long last, that she had heard much about me from the Governor and his wife.

We enjoyed a light lunch and delightful conversation.  She was genuinely very interested in my ideas for literacy, and was curious as to why someone my age, someone 48 years her junior, was so preoccupied about language education.  She listened intently as I shared my educational goals and plans for the future.  Barbara Bush, for a few short hours, genuinely made me feel very valued and cared for, that my goals were laudable and achievable.  She sincerely dedicated the few hours we spent together, Mom, Barbara and me, to making me feel like the most valued resident of the State of Maine.  She was warm, caring and very much a lovely conversationalist.  We parted ways when she said jokingly that she needed to get back to Kennebunkport to let Millie, her dog, out for a run!  (She was expected at a fundraising event later that day.)