Posts Tagged With: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

ANNIVERSARIES OF THE HEART

I love this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It really suits my feelings at the end of a year. I miss those family members gone, and as I go through the rituals of Christmas and the new year, I think of them, little memories tickle in, mostly sweet, some regrets. And, I appreciate the sentiment of “anniversaries of the heart.” Here then, the poem. And, a ritual my mother and I shared for more years than I can remember.

The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart,
When the full river of feeling overflows;—
The happy days unclouded to their close;
The sudden joys that out of darkness start
As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart
Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!
White as the gleam of a receding sail,
White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,
White as the whitest lily on a stream,
These tender memories are;—a fairy tale
Of some enchanted land we know not where,
But lovely as a landscape in a dream.

img178Orella Elizabeth Moore around 1970 (Copy)

My mother was a hard-working person, who tried to make everyone’s dreams come true at Christmas. She cooked enough on Christmas to practically keep all of us full until the New Year. An early riser, she would get up before everyone and savor those early morning moments with her first cup of coffee and the crossword puzzle from the morning paper. Other than that, she rarely took time off for herself, but the week between Christmas and New Years was hers. She’d set up the card table and begin a jigsaw puzzle. Anyone and everyone could take part. If someone dropped in, she would engage them in the puzzle. Time floats away as you concentrate on working a puzzle and she chose them to be challenging. Then on New Year’s day, the puzzle finished, we took down the tree and put the ornaments away. I kept that ritual going in my home after she died but then, somewhere, I stopped working puzzles. And this year, for the first time, I missed putting my ornaments away yesterday.

A couple of days after Christmas, I got into my stuffed full quilting closet and there, the “anniversaries of the heart”, lay hidden. Memories came pouring out. Lacey doilies she had crocheted. Patches she had made for a bedspread. Her handwriting on wisps of paper pinned to fabric describing its future use. Her button collection.

I kept scraps from clothing she wore or made for my daughters. The closet had so many unfinished dreams, I’ve yet to finish the job.

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With most of the material and stuff I’d put into the closet gone, it is looking much neater on this side. My sewing machine is giving me trouble and out of the closet. I gotta find something better.

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On this side of the closet, those nicely closed drawers were so stuffed full, the bottoms were warped and the drawers couldn’t close.

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My office is practically unnavigable for the stuff I unloaded from that closet. Yes, it was full of unfinished projects, but marvelous memories it contained have inspired me anew to finish them. Thanks Mom. Thanks Henry.

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ST. MARTINSVILLE, LOUISIANA

From Mary’s desk.

Many of the 10,000 deported Acadians, (shortened by use to Cajuns)  found their way to St. Martinsville, Louisiana. The State established a Memorial to them and Evangeline, an Acadian by the name of Emmaline LaBiche. Her story is told in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called Evangeline.


The tree above is called the Evangeline Tree, supposedly where Emma LaBiche met her long separated love after the deportation. And, supposedly the most photographed tree in the world. Hmmm! I live by Calaveras Big Trees State Park and I’m doubting that “factoid.”

The garden above holds a replica of the deportation cross erected in Nova Scotia, the coats of arms of the initial families that rekindled life here, and a wall of names of all the families and their decendants that settled here. Jim and I both looked for our known family names  since we both have French Canadian ancestors. I found several from my geneology.

The St. Martinsville Catholic Church is on the National Historic Registry, unchanged and unique. Its hold over the community again makes one glad that our forefathers saw fit to separate church and state.

This site also houses an African American Museum that tells the history of slavery and accomplishments of people of color during the 1800’s.

This musical instrument was made of cowhide and common twine. Enslaved people were encouraged to sing and chant to form some sense of community and stave off fear of their predicament as they were herded like animals to their destination.

Most enslaved Africans were sold by other Africans dealing in human flesh and came from the West Coast of Africa in what is now known as Senegal. The slavers from France had the lowest mortality rate on their ships;  the Brits, the highest.  Since 2001 France has commemorated the abolition of slavery on May 10th each year.  A group called the Shackles Of Memory Alliance are attempting to get other countries to do the same and honor the 15 million Africans sold into slavery.

Before the Civil War, free people of color enjoyed many of the rights of whites. They worked hard, bought plantations, (in some cases owned slaves of their own, but more often to free relatives and friends.) They operated their own businesses and regularly won judgements against whites in court.  After the Civil war, all of those rights disappeared for “elite” people of color. Laws on the books from then to the 1960’s repressed all people of culture.

The town of New Iberia has an old historic Rice Mill that we also visited. More about it tomorrow.

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