Friends P2

"Sheltering the Creative Spirit"

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Taos, New Mexico USA




     Mother’s Soup of Life

    by Mary Ann Torrence


My astute daughter Holly announced one day, “Life is like Mother’s soup.  You never know what will be in it.”

In full agreement, we could never estimate the surprise importance of receiving a Prosperity Plant as a birthday present from Barbara Waters as well as two good-omen visits in one day from a very large bear at our back door.  Barbara shared her intuition by saying immediately, “You will soon sell your farm.”

Sure enough, within four days we did sell my inherited farm, which had been on the market for three years.  My husband, Geoffrey, and I were elated to finalize this sale as it enabled us to complete our move from Texas to the Sacramento Mountains of southeastern New Mexico.  Inspired by the books and ideas of Frank Waters, we have made major changes in our lives – including finding our “spirit of place” in the Southwest.

Meaningful coincidences have been a continuous, amazing aspect of our relationship since Geoffrey and I first met in the spring of 1970 at a Texas bluebonnet picnic.  Mutual friends had given me a gift of a movie camera that day, so we have a recorded history of our meeting.  A year later Geoffrey, two friends, and I leased a boat out of Nassau and sailed the Bahamas for ten days.  The movie camera footage of this trip allows us still to review our youthful enthusiasm and the adventure of that special time.

In August of 1973 we were married in Albany, New York, by a Unitarian minister with many friends and relatives present.  Forgetting our luggage, we left on an unforgettable (but short) honeymoon in Canada.  Upon our return to Austin, we began to cope with the three-ring circus of duties awaiting us.  Besides directing my own private school, this multitasking process included integrating Geoffrey’s work, an earlier family, and our beautiful new daughter Linda, born in 1977.

Geoffrey had been born in Peoria, Illinois.  His family moved to Darien, Connecticut, during his public school years.  He then enrolled at Brown University to receive a degree in physics before attending Yale and the University of Texas for a time.  Astronomy became his major focus, and his eventual decision to live and work in Austin was motivated by his specific interest in radio astronomy.  After thirty-two years with the University of Texas, he retired and is currently a consultant in satellite communications research, with his own private astronomical observatory called Hoka Hey, meaning “Hold fast; There is more.”

From my west Texas birthplace of Sweetwater, early memories for me include tumbleweeds, dust storms, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and precious little rain.  Memorization and elocution were daily rituals.  By age four, one of my favorites was, “Water for washing, water for drinking; there is nothing like water, pure waters I’m thinking.”  Sixty-four years later, I recently received the honor and privilege of having Frank Waters’ posthumous book Pure Waters dedicated to me.  Completing a full circle for me, this friend and mentor is now a major influence on my life.

At age sixteen, working in a public library as my first employment initiated experiences that instilled in me an enduring devotion to literature.  By twenty-seven I had worked in three public libraries, a county library bookmobile, the Oceanography and Meteorology Department’s library at Texas A. and M., the Texas State Library, and both the Humanities Research Center and the music library at the University of Texas. 

Majoring in music, I also attended North State University in Denton, Texas, and the University of Texas.  As an accompanist for instrumental music majors, I enjoyed the challenge of musical communication. 

During my first marriage to a fine violinist, two babies – Holly and Phillip – demanded my devoted attention.  With them, we moved to Washington, D.C., where my husband, Leo, and I attended the Association Montessori International.  We soon decided to establish our own Montessori School in Austin.  This led to my thirty years of involvement with wonderful children and parents.  Sadly, along the way we lost Leo to cancer.  Upon closing this private school in 1992, I was awarded recognition as “A Friend of Texas” by this state’s Human Resources Division.

Now in my current life as a grandmother, sharing her grandparenting role with Geoffrey, we are enjoying the extraordinary wonder of two talented grandchildren, Mary Beth and Harrison Reed, the precious children of Holly and her husband, Forrest.

Being involved with the Frank Waters Foundation and serving together on its board of directors is another shared interest that Geoffrey and I long will be dedicated to.  Attending in Taos the July 2002 centennial celebration of Frank’s birthday was a highlight of my life.

Settled in now at Serenity Summit, 9,200 feet high and surrounded by Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico, Geoffrey and I continue to believe as Frank Waters told me, “All unfolds as intended.”

With time, Mother’s Soup of Life grows ever richer and more nourishing.  


                                                        WHATEVER THE SONG 

                                                                   By Judith Bronner     


I find some peace
out with the wild birds when
I go out and talk to stones
that live on the desert-gold mesa.
I smell coyote-colored hills
and feel the indoor-ness
of life's monotony
melt away.  


I watch red ants lift sand crystals
and stack them grain on granule
perfecting a pyramid,
hogan-shaped with a sunrise doorway
facing away from west-wind storms.
And when a bird twitters suddenly
or choruses from the peak of a scrubby bush
my heart, pinched and scared
by worry and cares
suddenly flares, opens like a flower
to whatever comes:
rain or sun, fumbling bee, hummingbird tongue,
chalky dust, scarring wind
a crushing footfall, tire tread
mildew or disease
or fruit that hurries demise.  


And I suddenly become brave again
accepting, so that
much later, a world away
when I step through the door of my house,
home again,
someone different, someone altered, consecrated
walks through that door again --
with a spirit big enough to fill the room
and able to flow beyond with the sun,
whatever the song.
(Judith Bronner is a true friend of the Frank Waters Foundation as well as a good personal friend.  As a librarian and a professional photographer, her expertise in both fields has proven invaluable.  Among other projects, she has photographed the content
 for several slide shows and initiated the idea for Taos  Library's bronze plaque of Frank Waters.)



                    "WILL YOU BE OKAY?"       

                                                  By Della Estrada


Will you be okay when I'm gone

Will you arise with mindfulness to
    each new dawn

Will you smile a tear, knowing,
    I am truly near

Will you feel me in the warmth of
    the sun

Will you hear me in the wind

And when you look in the mirror, there
    too, will you see the love reflecting
    through your eyes, the very love
    that held me high

Will you be okay when the stars and
    the raindrops say, "Extend your love
    ever far away."

For I will be there; and I, too,
    will be okay.

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