Aug. 5

Hard to figure a year has passed from the date on her Death Certificate, but when was time ever easy to figure? At the rate lives & stages of life pass, the rest is the blink of an eye…. As Virginia put it on a scrap found recently in a pile–

I don’t understand death–
from where I am, it just doesn’t fit.

The body’s set up for it, so they say–
cycling, renewing, reforming,
giving others something to eat.
But now I’m such a klutz! I step on
everything! I chew & swallow for pleasure,
I breathe & release toxins. Can you tell me
one thing I do that only causes life, or good?

Eye to eye, matching seed to seed
the life giving/ the death dealing–
how can it be that the mind just disappears??
the scales hover/ in absolute equality:
that’s what we’ve got–nothing!
(but I don’t quite buy it)
—————————vrb [undated]

[Roughly scribbled on a piece torn from some notepad, this seems uncharacteristic of Virginia’s poetry, classic snaps or explorative adventures, even with her tendency to surprise. More like notes she never came back to, her observations here suggest kinds of speculation she rarely articulated.

Despite different family backgrounds, I don’t recall ever holding different “beliefs.” Such things, at the heart, aren’t a matter of doctrine or dogma so much as of belonging & feeling, the actual (inner, personal) experience of oneness/ connection/ love–whether of persons for each other or for devotional dimensions, places, principles of relation, objects & representations.

Virginia’s capacity for empathy, for feeling the feelings of others, came with an ability to distinguish qualities more or less directly, not from ideas but from an amalgam of observation, vibration & evaluation, often less a matter of particular religion or belief system than of the individuals practicing.

She didn’t theorize, but practiced various devotions–“study” of life; music & dance; yoga, poetry, gardening, painting; teaching & friendship…. As a friend, she could resonate in harmony without having to analyze doctrines, e.g., as an engaged visitor in someone’s church or other sacred space, observing inwardly. The qualities of worship aren’t necessarily vested in the rites as much as in the experience evoked, entering with an open mind & spirit.

However willing to share, she didn’t generally talk about her experience. Though she wore a family cross in some wedding pictures, she didn’t consider herself a member of any one religion, but a friend of many, including the physical sciences. She was far too attuned to life (as lived & observed) to believe the sciences were all that mattered, or that they’d resolved the mysteries that mattered….

Of the spiritual teachers & traditions she respected, she likely felt closest to Basho & Tagore, purely from the writings, & Sri Aurobindo & Mother, from her time at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India, where a 3-day visit turned into a 7-month immersion. Part of a larger east-west synthesis, each struck chords of trustworthiness, beneficence, insight, & wisdom, including principles in harmony with her own, as exemplified in the Mother’s devotion to “free progress” education–as in material (to be added shortly) on the bio page.]

Take a Wild Ride

in her hand just found/ years later–a perfect snap/ on its own path here (rb) :

April wind
apple blossoms
take a wild ride

However much in its own season, Virginia’s snapshot is also timeless. Her life was a wild ride with many wild rides taken within, her last fall & week’s aftermath no exception. She took us with her a few times right to the edge, coming back as if only to share–

on the other side/ it really is different…


one more hula
under the blue sky….

facing the east window at dawn. Volumes passed through her attentive hand, with or without words. Poems just found in her hand from earlier times are now going up on other pages, including those in a folder mostly from about 2001-2002.

We are taking nominations for which of Virginia’s poems to include in a small, printed gift for friends to be called Take a Wild Ride, with both apple-blossom snaps & adventures like “All downhill from here…,” one of the wildest rides in words takable anywhere.

Send any nominations–by title or first two lines– c/o, with “VRB” in the subject space, or drop them in a “COMMENT/REPLY” box on site.

[P.S.: By “other side,” she seemed to be describing immediate experience, not referring to a pre-conceived place or idea.]

Quick Guide

New VRB materials are up on the “6/2020” page. (Just click on the top menu & you’re there.) Most POSTS (below) are skippable–or can be skimmed for VRB material. Apologies for where my words get in the way. Reading her work & feeling the person, my enthusiasm often spills over into comments & background, neither necessary for appreciation of the work.

The top menu speaks for itself, with some pages clearly works-in-progress. (Let us know if you’ve got special interests.) The first aim is to share more of her work with loved ones & friends, none of whom are yet aware of its full range (even Yours Crudely). Beyond that, I hope the work makes new friends, who may love & admire it as we do.

I’m not sure there’s a name for Virginia’s kind of artist-poet-teacher. Music, dance, and all the sciences were part of her repertoire, each adding to relationships. She never called herself an artist, a musician, or even a poet, just went on making art, music &, especially, poetry as part of life through it all–quietly, often for particular people, often just tucked away.

A few close friends more publicly identified as poets knew her gifts, but those still living are only now coming to realize their fuller extent, range & volume. Even she wouldn’t have realized, not thinking in terms of “a body of work,” any more than she thought of making a name fir herself. The work played through, emerging from the life experienced, not thinking of a resume.

She didn’t leave a neatly tied little bundle of life’s work like Emily Dickinson, for example. She did leave bundles, however, in folders, boxes, drawers, little notebooks, scribbles on pads, and certain special collections in a few sketch books. A number of finished groups are done in her own hand, with drawings, sometimes found copied from originals made for particular people. Other are messier, some finished except for a clear hand; some showing up more fragmented in folders labelled “in progress…” or “to work on…”

Just as each of her short ‘snap-poems’ are distinct moments, each of the longer pieces is its own adventure–an exploration of experience, from senses & the doors of perception to mysteries of heart, form & music. A natural scientist, her work draws from where observation, relationship & experiment meet.

She didn’t talk about things like poetry, least of all her own; she simply practiced its essence, including experiments played out on the edge of the possible, as if to test just what could be done in words in motion through lines (as in All Downhill from here, for example).

She took each poem–hers or anyone else’s–just as she approached each person, as a genuine original. When her poems are put together, the power of her own uniquely quiet & reflective voice starts to become ever more evident.

Individual pieces are going up, therefore, with an added excitement from the sense of a larger discovery-in-progress, one only becoming clear cumulatively. It may take more complete transcription & uploading, plus entirely re-considered organization of the materials, for the impact the work-as-a-whole deserves.

Even so, the first steps include finding, transcribing & uploading. As with any walk in beauty, the spirit of the whole emerges step by step, through the particulars….

[Though not listed under Recent Posts, “Hello, friends” & “Forever young,” the two earliest, can be found at the bottom of the Post-page scroll, or by clicking July 2019 & Sept. 2019, respectively, under Archives. –June 15, 2020]

26 May (2020)

Memories–Singular & Collective: Strange. The word memory contains many levels. Not all memories are from our own experience, for example. Never mind for the moment memories embedded in DNA &/or social institutions. We also remember facts we’ve learned, like that on this date (many years ago, not 2020) Virginia Alice Richardson was born, in Reno, Nevada. I’d bet she was only called that on the paperwork, however, except for rare. ceremonial occasions. She’d have been “little Ginny“at the time.

Though I’d not be born until the next December, north of Boston, I still remember the fact & can even imagine some of the experience, almost as if I’d been there, an astral spirit observing from above, seeing her snuggled in her mother’s arms, & in the nursery with her soon-to-be Plumb Lane neighbor & lifelong friend, Kitty Houghton, already a few days old….

The membrane between memory & imagination is porous, no line at all, really, just a slight shift in way of looking or framing what’s ‘seen.’ This can be so even when our own intense experience has been directly involved, as in “imagining/ remembering” our own infancy. Impressions of experience remain, however deeply below or within the fact memory.

So, too, the impressions of a life, a love, a person with whom shared experience has deeply layered across time, place & circumstance, including a spiral of memorable birthdays! Our first “date” as a couple happened on my 21st, turning the date to an anniversary. And on her 60th, how we celebrated the full moon all night long in the heart of the dunes at White Sands! Some memories alright. (“Better not get me started.”)

Too late. It is Memorial Day Week-end, after all, a holiday celebrated on at least two levels, personal & collective, both levels with the same focus, remembering those no longer here, who gave their all, in one sense or another, with, for &/or to us–a time when the factual memory is just the beginning, our attention tuned by our collective appreciation, along with our love, the felt bonds of our personal connection.

In honor of little Ginny’s birthday, then, new found VRB writings will start getting put up on a brand new page, “Up 6/2020,” adding contributions at least through to the solstice….. The writings themselves come across time, often (but not always) dated. They are unique, unlike anything I’ve read or known before–except from her. Even ones she might have shared read as if for the first time, fresh & surprising.

They’re not all what she might have considered “finished,” many becoming parts of works-in-progress, stored in lively folders, while the life-in-progress kept generating her new responses. Some folders even hold finished collections, sometimes the copy of an original given as a gift. She did not write for publication, or with that in mind, let alone the idea of either career or recognition.

She did write to share, however, as well as to explore, experiment, reflect, & practice a loved art–at once for its own sake, for her own (its effects on state, feeling & attitude), & for life (e.g., sharing with others). She loved poetry as she loved music, dance, drawing & painting–& still, she loved life, people, other creatures & nature more. She studied piano & hula as a girl, then drama & modern dance; yoga, batik & dance in India; autoharp & sketch-book. All of these flowed into her writing in one way or another–simply because all flowed into her life, as lived & shared.

None of these were “professions” to her, reminding us that the ama in amateur refers to the love such a practice may be done for. In her two professional trainings (which she often practiced together), natural science (the living world) & teaching (individual beings-in=progress), she also acted from love–starting with respect, growing with appreciation, enjoyment, curiosity, wonder, mutual encouragement….

Her main teaching, whether professional or personal, was always by example, most notably in qualities of relation, how one approaches & relates to what’s studied & practiced, whether between student & subject, people in the class, or people & environment (natural & social). She brought the same qualities to her poetry, whether in what she had to say, how she said it, or feeling of the music. Yet each folder seems to have its own quality.

Solstice thoughts

VRB mask made at UNM, 1980
her serene face found
tucked away in a closet
forty years later

Welcome, friends–old, new, & yet to come. Among the old, a card recently from a student of Virginia’s during her first year of teaching (at Selwyn School in Texas), a middle-schooler then, & friend since, said she checked the site every week or two for new additions. Thus, an encouragement to add more from the treasures still being discovered. 

1st, newcomers just landing here may want to jump down to the bottom post (chronologically first) for a general orientation to the site. Two poems of Virginia’s you won’t want to miss have also been newly uploaded as clickable files in the middle of the “Poetic Discoveries” post (two posts down).  Otherwise the pages clicked to from the MENU above speak for themselves. Drop an email or comment if so moved, including requests.     

oh, beloved
when the dancing is done
& the years have passed

I will wait for you
by the bridge
where the swallows come

ah, rascal moon!
where are you hiding
my beloved?

that milky, dusty blue
one distant ridge
to the next
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~vrb (rev 3/28/2010)

[rev = revisited &/or revised, e.g., tightened & clarified, as this has been today, rev 3/28/2010, our 46th anniversary.]

Thanksgiving…across time

Long-returning friends & those here for the first time will surely be grateful for what Virginia Bodner left behind–gifts for eye, ear, heart & mind, many shared here for the first time, especially writings just being discovered. We have our memories, and feel her influence, too. Beyond her unassuming beauty of eye & ear, good will & spirit, she was also reflecting in tranquility, connecting heart & word, exploring the media of personal expression….

She had grown up at home, both in & out of her body–diving from the high platform or flying off with a crow; dancing in leotards & disappearing into music; at one with nature, & in tune with her own feelings; equally engaged in the lives of the mind & interested in the nature of the world. Her lovely, quiet voice had been tuned by piano, dulcimer & autoharp; more so by the elemental sounds encountered in nature; more so still by her own heart-felt attention to the delicate life of the world.

It was the quality of her relating that had the main impact, source of her influence & effects. Her artistic & poetic makings are of the same cloth–ways of tuning, feeling, asking, exploring; shared adventures & reflections. In the words of the old Hebrew thanksgiving song, Dayenu, “it would have been enough” for the insight, good will & pleasure of the person.

Yet there’s more to be found–& be grateful for–in her artistic example, both practice & product, a by-product of craft, caring attention to details. Much of her poetry practice happened in solitude–not hidden, but made & tucked away in quiet moments apart, often a form of meditation, fine-tuning awareness, mood & sense of being. These could be gems of an instant, sketched perceptions, or musical excursions.

Many of her poems are also inspired by, about, &/or written for & to particular people, made for sharing. These were often letters in poetry, direct communications between connected people, less poetry-as-poetry, the practice of an art for the art’s sake. She never practiced poetry-as-professioon, but explored its personal meanings, range, modes, & potentials.

She had all the tools of language, insight, experience and feeling for that unlimited art. Though she studied natural sciences (& teaching), she’d loved & practiced ‘language arts’ from an early age, including the oral–playing a memorable Anne Frank in high school; reciting poetry (Homer to e. e. cummings) in college–where she also discovered Tagore & Basho & a life partner similarly inspired, leading both to India, Japan & countless poets, poems, song-offerings & blessings after, world-wide & local, from the masters, pro’s, neighbors, family, friends, students, frogs & birds.

Although grateful for what Yeats called “monuments of…magnificence,” the great works so moving & meaningful through the ages, she never believed the arts were meant mainly for masters & admired contemporaries alone (the 1%), but to provide value for all ages & levels of sophistication. Come to think of it, this was the same as her relation with the natural world–not restricted to the most magnificent & awe-inspiring examples, but a vital part of wherever she was, or we are.

Sophistication & knowledge were not the keys to what the arts offered by way of value-added experience of being human. In this, her relationship was also the same as with the natural world. First came a quality of attention, experience & relationship, a respect, good will & interest in, out of which learning more & knowing better grow. Neither nature nor the arts were subjects that began or ended at school ground boundaries.

She brought nature into school, while also the opposite, taking the classroom outside, restoring a little wetlands as an outdoor classroom. What had been a field of rubble & mud became a place for contemplating nature, as well as for exploring inner experience, where the arts expanded the range of response. More of that story is told on the Our Little Wetlands page. The point here is that neither nature study nor the arts were ever primarily academic to her, but active engagements in the daily life.

As a student at Radcliffe, she broke school rules to rehabilitate an injured bird (Iris) in her dorm room. Nor was this her only wild friend. When she’d left for college, she said goodbye to a rescued crow (Crocus), who’d been flying free for some time, but greeting her each morning. After an absence of about four years, Crocus showed up in the yard for her wedding.

If you knew her well, you recognize the spirit of the person. If you’ve never met her before, some such remains possible through the work left behind–especially the poetry–whether written as meditation, to/for specific readers, photo-album or to test/expand poetry’s potential.

Newcomers may want to check the earliest post below (“Hello, Friends”) for orientation to the site, a work in progress. Those especially interested in her writing will find the most examples so far on the Pen-Play page, but some also in Friends (two poems at the top) & the Poetic Discovery post below (two to take breath away), as well as a prose article in Our Little Wetlands .

~~~~   the pot is fired
~~~~~~with wood & dung
~~~~naked we enter the flames

~~~~~emerge clothed
~~~~in smoke & whispers


Poetic Discovery:

Those who knew the person will recognize the spirit, personality, character, and qualities of attention found in the poet being discovered here. Even those closest to her, who’d known the poet all along, lacked sense of the full scope, rich range & artistic achievement of makings she’d leave behind. Even she wouldn’t have known, one making at a time, part of living, not of a literary or artistic ‘program.’

She respected, & even loved, the craft of whatever she did, dance, music, visual arts, but arguably the writing most of all, though substance & essence were what drew her–called sincerity, in some old Chinese texts, meaning without pretense; not the concept, but the practice of wholeness, attentive to what is (worlds within, around, connected).

Her visual artwork, especially later, was mainly a kind of meditation, in this case a way of getting in touch, discovering, realizing, & expressing in outer color, movement & form what was primarily inner reality–visual, emotional, & dynamic. The variety is often startling–yet even more so in the writing being discovered, one folder, notebook, page, pile at a time.

Only a small sampling or her writing has made it up on-site so far, most being transcribed (&/or, in the case of finely penned or brushed pages, scanned) into off-line files for organizing (in time; by type; for whom; on what; within her musical & thematic sequences). A few who knew her well were familiar with her Basho-like gifts–gems of attention, sometimes called ‘haiku moments,’ a long practice, mostly in the background.

Fewer knew her deep love of music & dance, and of how these could play together in her poetry. No one knew how many musical meditations & letter-poems she’d written, let alone the artistic tours de force finished & set aside in a drawer while going on with life. It was not that she hid them, or held back from sharing, but felt no need to push them forward either.

Here are two surprising, exhilarating, energetic, deeply playful examples, each taken somewhat out of context from a different grouping. ‘divinity‘ comes from a sequence she wrote to & for her mother; ‘Downhill from here…‘ was part iv. of a gift called “Mahalo…my husband,” in this case her breath-taking take on the last stage of a shared lifecycle: 
Downhill from here

Whew! Besides the over-the-hill couple about to experience an imminent decline, where “Downhill…” begins, its we presumably includes her Plumb Lane buddy Kitty Houghton, a companion presence throughout the poem & much of their childhood, starting in the same nursery (born days apart), country neighbors thereafter, part of each other’s family. Odds are it’s Kitty being quoted in “Look ma, no hands!” before their last leap– 

[The Catherine Houghton Arts Center at New Hampshire’s White Mountain School is named for Kitty–downhill skier, classical organist, jazz musician, doctor of linguistics (fluent in 6 languages), Peace Corps Nepal, U. N. Bangladesh, Dept. of Commerce foreign service officer with global postings, small plane pilot on volunteer missions (e.g., Angelflights), active member of the 99’s (group of women pilots), school trustee & mentor….

As Virginia’s lifelong friend & son’s god-mother, Kitty dropped in every so often, in later years quite literally from the sky. Landing at a little strip at town’s edge after waving at the house, one of her last stops included 2 young Nepali women all crowded together heading east to a 99’s gathering (with a film Kitty had a hand in about the Nepali women’s daring missions).     

Kitty’s mother, Edda, was an artist, activist & university supporter. Her father, Sam, was a Harvard grad who’d served a time in some state elected body. Virginia’s mother was university trained in biology. Her father, a college camping friend of Ansel Adams, had been chair of the  university biology department–before becoming a national figure of historic import in the early to mid-1950s, forcing the family away from Plumb Lane (twice) in the process, first to Hawaii, then the Pacific northwest.

It’s an amazing story in Nevada & American history, referenced in national news coverage, though not yet fully told. It may have had a profound effect on Virginia’s sense of fairness, justice, and right action. The effect might be best attributed to her father’s example, and that of other ‘good people’ who joined in the fight, including (besides neighbors) some well-known luminaries in literature, academia & the judiciary.

Such people became part of her sense of identity, along with others she knew from the page, but did not leave there. She took them off the page, both into herself & sharing with others, as with Anne Frank, whom she played in a high school production. Like the people with whom she felt shared identity, places also became part of her, starting with Plumb Lane, nearby mountains & deserts, & Hawaii….]

one more hula
under the blue sky

So she spoke near the end, facing a near last dawn, her arms moving with gentle grace, one of the last times sitting up, writing in the air. Her son put her words on paper. A few days earlier, she’d recalled the sense of springing from a high diving board, with the flash of mountains upside down soon after. Wherever she was, it seems, she absorbed that place deep into herself, including Cambridge, Paris, Spain, North Texas, India, Japan, &, for nearly a half century, northern New Mexico–the town of Las Vegas &, twenty miles north, “the land.”       


Like the natural world, the arts were part of Virginia’s daily living, nourishment received & experience shared. That was also part of her teaching–the only art she practiced professionally, though without putting that in the way of direct relating with students, parents, & colleagues as people. The teaching came first, but she also put in the time necessary for managing the paperwork & other responsibilities, in contrast to her work in the arts practiced as an amateur, i.e., unpaid, purely for the love of it.                 

As a teacher of the ‘gifted,’ Virginia believed that each & every child–as well as many, if not most, adults–, had been endowed with creative gifts that deserved encouragement. Notable among these is the urge for discovery. She knew that looking closely was never a matter of the eyes only, or even primarily; seeing into the heart of things involved qualities of attention & relationship that informed her science, poetry & teaching alike, expressed also in ethical example, friendship, good will & respect.

People are accustomed to associating the sciences with search & discoveries–those in the past prelude to the all the more exciting ones on the verge & in process, just being made. Poetry, for Virginia, was equally so, starting with paying attention, from which many discoveries happen as if by themselves. Poetry provided vehicles for paying attention, making discoveries, and sharing with friends–& not one kind only.

Attention involved her whole person & could operate in various modes, sometimes simultaneously–from photographic detail out of time to sensuous movement; gem-like moment snapped from the flow to inward exploration & musical reflection. Often, the adventure was just seeing where the path might go–though sometimes, she had a particular person in mind, being written to &/or for, whether still in this world or not.

Poetry provided ways for both tuning one’s instrument & communicating more fully. The instrument tuned can be called, attention, awareness, or person, that feeling-thinking-sharing being responsive to experience. The poem becomes the voice of the experience, speaking to writer & reader while becoming an experience in its own right, an artistic adventure, any & all aspects of the medium potentially at play, mostly self-arising elements.

Guided by the attentive seeker, the pen links inner & outer, poet & page, friend & friend, partners moving in response to the experience, what’s discovered, revealed, shared, feeling its way. Seeking what? Not necessarily anything more than the openness itself, inner listening, with feedback to feeling & thought from line & layout, sound & sense; mood, color, visual image, texture & form; rhythms of movement & stillness; imagination & memory….

Picking up the pen & setting it in relation to a page was an invitation for Virginia to pay attention, like opening the door & setting out–a process rich with active discovery, whether memorable or not, unusual or not, intentionally focused on discovering the path more or less step by step. Not necessarily “where it led” so much as the path itself. Many writers have noted that it was only by writing that they knew what they thought. For Virginia, thought might not be what others think thought means.

At Inspiration, for example, the family’s one-room refuge in the northern New Mexico mountains, each visit involved a log-book entry. Hers were often a shining moment or two, images arising from the land tuned into, saying more than the words–without commentary, nothing extra. (There are lots of such entries on the Pen-Play page.) Unlike some loggers, she rarely spoke about her feelings or even about what she’d noticed or thought, presenting these in the snapped moment, feelings embodied not objectified.

Now it’s we who get to make discoveries, including the excitement of finding a major poetic voice so fully worth our attention. For us, as for the poet, the rewards of such tuning in are direct & tangible, experienced in particulars–the feeling of a line, the connectedness of a perception, the empathy of experience, the integrity of relationship. Craft & concept emerge together feelingly, part & whole reinforced by dancing together.

Something similar seems to be emerging from the growing body of work being found & transcribed. We knew she was a master of the Basho moment, the keen perception overflowing with more than is said. We knew she was a person of integral relations–with the land & other people, caring & sharing, so the many poems that are letters shouldn’t perhaps be such a surprise. Even those who knew her love of music may not have realized how much her experience of the classical repertoire meant to her, or the depth of its connection with some of the poetry made in solitude, listening….

Forever young

Forever ageless now, being all ages, though a younger face comes to view most, as if lit from within, enveloping the heart.  Ages fall away as easily with cottonwood & willow leaves. 

If you’re arriving for the first time, happy browsing in any direction–whether scrolling down or skipping around the pages. Ditto if you’re coming back to continue a chapter &/or see what’s new.

Newest additions from Virginia herself cross time-zones & personal eras–going up more or less as found, mostly on the Pen-Play Art-Play pages, as well as at the top of the Friends page, where her ‘letter-poems’ to friends have been slowly going up. Even her rough scratch-books (e.g., the green memobook just up near the top of the Pen-play page) hold a variety of treasures, including gems like: …
                         cast               released
                              the net itself

Cards & notes from friends cross time zones, too, some deeply personal, lasting connections (e.g., from Jan, Marlane, Cathy…). Those who knew her well are of a theme–which all may recognize. Our connections with Virginia don’t just continue–but continue to evolve & deepen, as she keeps on adding not just her own “2-cents worth” in found words, but a poetic legacy worth wider attention.

Emily Dickinson’s writing was found well organized, in keeping with her literary ambitions. Virginia Bodner’s teaching materials are that well organized, reflecting her professional engagement, but her personal writings are scattered about in memo books, notebooks, sketchbooks, drawers, boxes, cookie tins, scrap-paper piles…, letters to loved ones &, here & there, publications she herself never actively sought.

A reviewer of the poet Ramanujan’s work said recently he felt like he was reading over the writer’s shoulder. In our case, we see & feel through her eyes, with a dual sense of recognition & new discovery. As with her visual artwork &, earlier, spontaneous dance, she plays, explores, feels, considers, reflects, & intentionally shares, often at the same time.

Play may tend to predominate in bits & pieces, but even there, gems jump out, moments lit from within. One night might find in the same notebook, a page crafted for a particular person, complete in all but mailing; a meditation inspired by specific music; an experiment with form; a jewel-like embroidery of moments. Looking over her shoulder, we come not just face to face, but also heart to heart.

A long-questionable line in “Moon Shadows,” a family poem from the mid-1980’s, “as long as any of us are here, we’re all here,” has never seemed more true–or more false, as her quiet voice retains its strong impact in our lives & psyches. How can we feel & miss at the same time? Absence & presence both intense. “Don’t be sad,” she said one night recently. “I’m here. I love you.” How like her….

Hello, friends!

Welcome to Celebrating Virginia Bodner! Most of you will probably know many reasons to do so, yet few, if any, will know all. Even those who’ve loved & admired her–along with her makings & effects in this world–have realized all the more about her spirit & gifts as she passed from it–in one sense. As an inspiring force, her presence doesn’t just remain, but grows.

We invite you to participate. Share whatever thoughts, photos, experiences that remembering Virginia/ Ginny/ Gin/ Nature Girl/ Mrs. B./ Mom/ friend (however you think of or call her) suggests, either through the comment box below (moderated to skim out spam) or via

Pages are up for the work of her brush, pen and friends–especially things recently shared or discovered. We hope to continue adding Virginia’s:
~~~Poetry (snap-verse, weathergrams, haiku–& beyond…)
~~~Artworks (see Alice’s Gallery for now…)
~~~Nature thoughts & writings (Mud-Puddle Marsh, etc.)
~~~Biography (a most amazing life…, with many surprises)
~~~On-going Initiatives (outdoor classroom/ Wetlands, etc.)
~~~Dear Friends (co-conspirators, i.e., YOU, us, etc.)

On return visits, you may find not just more offerings from others who have known, been inspired, and loved Virginia, but new offerings from her just going up–as fresh now as when they were first experienced, penned, drawn, &/or photographed. You’re certain to find plenty of surprises among them, as in her biography. When returning, you may want to check for more recent additions to the seemingly bottomless page by scrolling down to check for new sections from the bottom up, as well as from top down.

She did more than appreciate variety & diversity, loving the world in its unique particulars. Her love for individuals & arts, once experienced, made for lifelong relations. Not to put a halo on her once blonde head, just being honest about it–the joy & beauty she found from girlhood on in nature (as participant, student & teacher), she also found in the arts (as participant, recipient, do-er, helper) and in persons.

In both nature & art, she shared what she loved with others for the values found there. If her relationships showed integrity, sincerity, honesty, good will; attentiveness, intuition, & genuine feeling, she also had a few lacks: lack of self-consciousness, self-promotion, hidden agendas & personal ambition, for example. (Again, this simply describes what those who knew her well will recognize.)

When it came to teaching, Virginia held nothing back, sharing wonders & treasures with children, teachers she mentored & worked with, and parents (whose perspectives & caring she identified with, as she also did with students). “Thank you for being there for us,” more than one group wrote in a parting note. She was there for them, which is why many parents were grateful, too. She gave and exchanged without reserve, including evening hours at home & weekends at the cabin devoted to reflection & planning.

As in how she engaged in collaborative arts like drama, dance, music-making, & linked-poetry, she neither held back, nor over-pushed, but delivered when asked. Given the impact of her “Anne Frank” performance in high school, as well abilities with piano, plus her enjoyment of painting & poetry, she could easily have gone professional in almost any of the arts, yet she majored in biology, and chose teaching as her main practice.

She never lost touch with the arts, however, whether encouraging her students or practicing them herself “on the side,” as recreation. What she didn’t do was try to push her own creations forward to a wider audience or to make something more out of them (like career or reputation) beyond the primary making. Little, if any, or her drama, dance & music survive, except in some memories, but in her retirement years, the visual work flowed, with more examples up shortly for your enjoyment. Most have never been seen or exhibited before. They were made the way she might make up a song or dance to express the occasion.

If she’d been a jazz musician, she’d have enjoyed joining in for the joy of the music & the playing together, with no thoughts towards producing a record or booking a performance. It was the doing, the playing & sharing that had primary value. Not that she objected to wider sharing or tangible productions that might bring value to others; these just weren’t part of her ordinary agenda or personal repertoire. She left such things to others.

The same applied to her poetry, impressive expressions & expressive impressions at the same time. Not that sought to impress anyone. The only way a verse of hers could be named a “Grand Prize Winner” (described as “best haiku of the year in English”) was by having been sent off by her husband. Though she never sent any writing off for publication herself, others close to her did, including a few linked-poetry co-consirators.

Her short poems of the moment often resonate as if in a quantum state–at once expressive impression & impressive expression. Hers were like that, the impression of a moment registered with feelings intact, often scribbled on scraps of paper or in notebooks tucked away, some just now turning up. Among these are not just the haiku-like, but also the more personally voiced, thoughtful, and/or dream-based.

There are a few examples where she played a more active role in drafting, selecting & tweaking material for publication, even if someone else did the actual sending. These were in response to direct requests, e.g., the article she co-wrote for Orion Afield, and the entries submitted to her college class’ anniversary reports (the last just published in May 2019, an especially noteworthy weaving of prose, verse & autobiographical reflection). These will go up as clickable Pdf.’s, as soon as possible.

She was never fond of deadlines, or of having to finish, though willing to help others faced with such dilemmas–offering responses to someone else’s “almost last drafts,” for example.

Alas, we didn’t have her help in drafting the notice for the local paper, a challenge that required serious efforts from all three named “survivors.”  Any way it’s sliced, diced, chopped & blended, it far from does the person justice. It’s also an unsatisfying format which the newspaper then mucked about with to conform its own template–even moving parts about.  

Given the venue, it was aimed primarily for Virginia’s local friends and former students. Each item deserves expansion, e.g., her web of friends and extended family. We hope no one will mind having been grouped together instead of individually identified. As for the life at the center, hers was far too amazing & full of interesting surprises to fit in any conventional format.   

CLICK TO OPEN:   Virginia-Bodner-Obituary (for/from Optic) 

Besides mucking about with the text & paragraphing, the newspaper also squeezed text into unreadably narrow columns, extending the “column inches.” Of course we were amateurs at the form. In retrospect, it might have been more useful to keep it extremely short, with hardly any biographical material, to direct readers to this website all the more clearly. “Live & learn.”  

Gus questioned the “happiest years” statement included, by the way, suggesting we should add an “among,” since other years could also qualify, e.g., some in her childhood. Yes, that was so, as well as her times as student, young explorer, bride, mother, etc. She never really ran out of happiest years, though coping with three decades of Parkinson’s side effects (like tremor & balance issues) took a toll.

When things got tough, however, that made bright spots all the happier–as in the active adventures of her last years with loved ones. If she couldn’t climb Hermit’s Peak with her kids any more the way she had at 50, well a more modest walk or time at the gym could still make her and her companions happy. Not the happiest of a lifetime with so many exilarating peaks, perhaps, unless you factor these into the embedded memory.

High spots may be shared on site by & for her wider circle of friends, left in the COMMENTS box, below, or sent via email at, for adding to the “Friends” page. (See menu.)