In Memoriam – Our Little Jail Bird

This was not LJB’s last blog piece, but it is her most iconic, filled with the photos that she loved to take.  Hopefully this will be the best way to remember her this weekend.


Until last fall, I had never been to Banning State Park. I had driven by it dozens of time, because when I head up to my sister’s house, I always turn off 35W and take Highway 23 into town. I didn’t know much about Banning, but when I was looking for a day trip, it seemed to fit my needs perfectly.

First, I wanted a park where I could drive there and back in one day without getting too tired. Second, I wanted a park that didn’t involve driving several back roads, because I knew that I would be driving in the dark due to the shorter fall days and my night vision and sense of direction is bad enough that I would get lost unless I kind of knew where I was going. And third, I wanted a state park because I had a state park sticker and wanted to use it as much as possible to get my money’s worth out of it. Banning fit all of those qualifications. Plus it has a waterfall, which is a big plus in my book.

So, off I went, one sunny morning in October. When I arrived, I stopped at the visitor center to get maps and ask where the best spots were. I was so excited. It seems that often when I go north, I am early for the fall colors and often find myself driving home just a few days before “peak”  and this time I was not too early! I said something about that to the woman at the desk (while trying to not jump and down in excitement) and she shook her head woefully and told me in a discouraging tone, “You’re going to see LOTS of brown out there.” Gee thanks, way to burst my bubble.

Of course, since I drove all the way up there, I figured I better go on the hike anyway even if I would see mostly brown. I drove to the parking area and when I stepped out of the car and looked up, I knew it was going to be a good day (see header photo).

I hiked all the way to the falls and back and shot lots of photos. It was an incredibly beautiful day: that clear, deep blue sky that you only seem to see on autumn days and – surprise! – lots of colorful leaves on the trees. It can be a challenge shooting in bright sunlight, but I was so overcome by the beauty of it all that I just took that in my stride. There was that wonderful northwoods smell in the air – pine trees and dead leaves. Nothing like it! and nothing else invigorates me like that does.


It was getting pretty cool and the sun was going down quickly by the time I was heading back on the trail but the golden evening light only made things more beautiful and the colors more intense. I went home pleasantly tired and very happy and glad that the woman’s prediction of “lots of brown” wasn’t true.

When has someone’s dire predictions not come true for you? (This was Edith’s question, but any and all comments are welcome!)


66 thoughts on “In Memoriam – Our Little Jail Bird”

  1. Thanks, VS, for this. I guess there were possible dire predictions when I went into preterm labor and our son was born 10 weeks early, but he pulled through with only a few issues (like some fine motor problems and a math learning disability) and now he has a master’s degree and a career he loves and a good marriage and a beautiful son.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Steve, I am glad to see you responding here today. I thought this might hit you hard, because I know the two of you shared the common interest of photography and talked together about it almost daily.


      Liked by 4 people

      1. Jacque: thanks. Actually the connection was much deeper than a shared interest. My friendship with Edith was focused on identity and what path she wanted to take in life. Photography was always a safe and interesting topic that made it easier to talk about more significant topics.

        Liked by 6 people

  2. I’m very saddened to hear this about one of our beloved Baboons. Sadly, I’m not on here much anymore, but I remember Edith and even recall how she got the moniker Little Jail Bird. Very funny, Tim!

    Take care everyone and may we all find peace and comfort in celebrating our memories of Edith.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I am still crying, and my sinuses do not like it, but I just cannot help it. This one is going to take awhile to resolve and accept. I suspect we are all reeling from this difficult news given how quiet things are today.
    Meanwhile, I am still trying to recover from the nasty virus I caught on the plane and the weeping just makes it worse. Arrrgh.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. This makes the fourth person in my circle of friends and associates who has died this year. Two more have had major surgery. I confess I am getting a little numb.
    Some of you may have a better sense of this than I do but Edith’s modesty and self-deprecation suggested to me that she was not always appreciated as much as she deserved to be. I think the support and friendship and admiration from Baboons meant a lot to her, as she did to us.
    Edith’s passing leaves a big empty spot.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Bill, that’s a terrible year. I’m sorry. A friend once surprised me by saying she hated Christmas. That’s when her mailbox would fill with Christmas letters, many conveying news of another friend who had died. Christmas might be less threatening now. She was in her 80s when she dreaded the holiday season. Now she’s in her 90s, with few friends left to lose.


  5. I was looking forward to being her Rochester connection.
    When she was here for the week having tests done, I was in the hospital with my leg infection. We texted a few times but were not able to meet.
    I delivered straw to her a couple times. Once she was sick and just called out through the window as I left the bales in the back yard.
    And once she wasn’t home.
    It’s so odd to have a connection with her and I’ve never met her really.

    Liked by 8 people

  6. I wish I had known her better. I met her at PJ’s house once. She was quiet and nice. I enjoyed looking at her photos. Peace to all who are grieving her loss.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. tim gave her the name, as I recall. I think Edith apologized for not being on the blog site for a long time. tim suggested that she was probably doing time, so that could not be held against her. I could have it wrong.

      Liked by 4 people

        1. I recall it as involving a briefcase left at a bus stop. From there Edith’s imagination went into high gear and ignited tim’s.

          Liked by 6 people

      1. she had so much fun with the story that whenever it was that i suggested she missed posting because she was doing time struck a high note for her and she named herself. one day she changed her moniker from edith to ljb. she initially explained that ljb stood for little jail bird then embraced it and no further backstory was required going forward. she was simply our ljb.


      2. What I most remember was not so much the story, but the easy grace and humor with which she took that name and ran with it. IIRC she was relatively new to the Trail at that point. I was so impressed.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Edith was one of the baboon crew of gardeners that showed up to help whip my garden in shape following my fall in 2012. That was the first time I met her. In fact that was the first time I met most of the baboons that showed up that day, I think Steve and Linda were the only two I had met previously.

    About a year later, Edith and I had lunch together, the one and only time I spent one on one with her. She had just come from a job interview at an ice cream shop, for a job she was not offered. When I asked how the interview had gone, she shrugged and said she probably wouldn’t get it. But I found her remarkably frank about things that I, personally, would could consider very private.

    Since then, I’ve met her at various book club gatherings, but most of our other contact has been through emails. I think Edith had a bit of an ambivalent relationship with me because of my sometimes contentious relationship with Steve. I hope that by the time she was admitted to the Mayo Clinic she knew that I was a friend and an ally; I think she did.

    Like Bill, I’m feeling numb. My friends Ken and Jon are still hanging on, though my friend, Deb, passed away in February from metastatic break cancer. I suppose it’s unavoidable that as time passes, we’ll all know more people who are dying, and our culture doesn’t do a very good job of preparing us for it. I think Edith did a remarkable job of preparing for her final exit, although I don’t think that even she had anticipated that it would come so suddenly. Despite her small size, she leaves a big void. And I’m so glad she made it such a priority to organize her photos.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Edith and I both struggled with issues of self worth. When I recognized that, I wanted to encourage her to like herself. I don’t think anything I said or did ever helped her. What did help was taking a photography class. Edith was intrigued with the possibility of photographing nature as some of her heroes had. She loved the work of Eliot Porter. Admiring nature photography became something else we had in common.

    Something like a small miracle happened as a result of that photography class. Edith found she had a passion, something she hadn’t felt in a long time. And she found she had an eye, which is how photographers describe someone who has the talent to see good images. I always knew I didn’t have a photographer’s eye. Edith hoped she did, and then became convinced she did. She finally had an identity and a rare skill, and she glowed with the joy of that. She began liking herself.

    One could say it was a cruel irony that her life ended so shortly after discovering who she was. I see it the other way around. She lived long enough to realize she was beautiful and had a wonderful skill. I’m so glad she had that.

    Liked by 9 people

  9. Beautifully said, Steve. Thank you.

    I visited Edith a couple of times at her home after her diagnosis. The first time to purchase one of my favorites of her beautiful photographs, and then just to visit. Although we never got to know each other well, we were kindred spirits and had hoped we would become closer during her recovery and beyond. We had good conversations. Edith did reach out to me once when she needed transportation and a caregiver for one of her pre-transplant stays in Rochester. I wasn’t able to help her because I needed to stay in closer proximity to my mom, but I was grateful that she felt comfortable enough to ask. This is a terrible shock. I will miss her.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. I was thinking that this is a dark day on the Trail. But places where friends gather, which is what this place essentially is, don’t really go dark.
    Edith had an eye for light and color, and that’s what I’ll remember.

    A light exists in spring
    Not present on the year
    At any other period.
    When March is scarcely here

    A color stands abroad
    On solitary hills
    That science cannot overtake,
    But human nature feels.

    It waits upon the lawn;
    It shows the furthest tree
    Upon the furthest slope we know;
    It almost speaks to me.

    Then, as horizons step,
    Or noons report away,
    Without the formula of sound,
    It passes, and we stay:

    A quality of loss
    Affecting our content,
    As trade had suddenly encroached
    Upon a sacrament.

    – Emily Dickinson

    Liked by 9 people

  11. I have been less connected this last year or so to this wonderful band of Baboons – though am very glad that I got out to a BBC that Edith was able to attend this spring. I made the mistake of reading the news while I was at work today – and had to pause to compose myself. I guess I was buoyed by Edith’s optimism – and so wanted the best outcome for her, wanted her to be able to go out with her camera again. I am glad that she was surrounded by the care and concern of so many from this community. I will miss her quiet, wry presence.

    And flights of angels sing the to thy rest, Edith.

    Liked by 8 people

  12. i am sad at how i assumed edith would be ok and did not evern consider dire predictions . i go through life being optimistic and assuming everything will be ok.
    wrong wrong wrong again. edith is such a great baboon gift
    how the heck she found us i dont think we ever discussed but it was a gift. the story about hearing the discussion of money overheard and my giving her flack about being involved and how we volleyed back and forth and had fun from the get go.
    it was like it was always meant to be. comfort and rapport form the first blog interaction.
    her quiet almost lurking lack of interaction until we convinced her if we all waited to post until we had something to say the blog would be bare.
    she got it.
    she got the whole baboon culture from the first breath.
    i remember how it surprised me a little that photography was the thing that got her excited. then to see her work and the wonderful pictures of ice cracks int he surface of a puddle and the green popping out of the spring morning on an early march or april walk. the picture of the herron is the one i will remember for her forever. what a shot.
    i picked up a bleeding heart form her this spring and commented on how much i liked the yellow paint on her walls.
    great choice that makes a difference. so simple and yet 100% right
    life can be simple.
    edith got it.

    Liked by 7 people

  13. I’ve been reading Tony Horwitz’s Spying on the South. The reading is tinged with knowledge of which Tony was unaware: that he was approaching his death. He died while on tour promoting the book. You never know…

    Liked by 2 people

    1.’re reading a book that was published this year? Isn’t that about 100 years too young for you???


  14. I so admired all the work Edith did helping her… was is her sister or mom, maybe up in Duluth, clear out all their stuff? As a person who’s done this for other people, I was amazed at all she did, but can’t remember the details now.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I emailed this yesterday to baboons, but would like to say it here, too:
    I think of Edith as a no-nonsense, feisty baboon who made choices that would allow here either the greatest freedom in the rest of her life, or the quickest exit. If she was going to have to go, I’m glad she got the quicker exit. But I’ll really miss her.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Ditto. Thanks for saying it.

      Today I in the garden weeding. The bleeding hearts Edith gave me have thrived and now her memory lives in my flower garden. Makes me happy at a sad time.

      Liked by 7 people

  16. I heard from LJB’s daughter, Beka. They are still pulling together their plans. Here is what she knows so far: “We are still finalizing arrangements for her memorial gathering. The date will be either July 21st or 22nd in the Twin Cities somewhere.”

    Steve, or anyone else, once we know the specifics, let us know if you need a ride.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Hey all, I’ve been out of town this weekend and it’s been very comforting to know that our community has gathered together here in our little digital world. I’m going to leave In Memoriam up one more day because I’m not sure we’re quite ready to go back to our usual banter yet. At least I know I’m not.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Don’t feel much like bantering at the moment, either.

      Spent the afternoon reading Edith’s CaringBridge posts since she set it up in September, trying I guess, to get a handle on where I could have gone so terribly wrong in not being ready for this outcome. It is all there, even the timeline. The first couple of weeks following the transplant are fraught with perils, and even after that months and months could still be very precarious.

      I think what we’re all going through right now is one of the many stages of grief, and we’ll each take our separate paths to moving on. I’m emotionally exhausted, but feel just a little comfort in knowing that there is group of baboon friends who understand exactly how I feel. Thanks, vs, for leaving this up another day.

      Liked by 7 people

    2. Life goes fast enough. I’m glad you left this the whole weekend.

      Saw a show last night called ‘Birds Sing Differently Here’ presented by the Iraqi – American Reconciliation project. (It was amazingly moving!) One of the lines was “When we laugh we consider it a blessing because it might be our last.”
      We just never know.

      Liked by 7 people

  18. We just put my art up in this new apartment. Right by my left arm, as I sit at the computer, is a lovely photo of an autumnal waterfall. (The waterfall photo included in the collage at the top of this post). I tried to buy it from Edith, but she wouldn’t take money for it. I’ll see it many times every day.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. i remember and think first of her heron with spread wings but the small subtle pieces i see in her collage are actually where i knew she had an eye for special shots.
      the balance and color in a focus on small scales is an art form she excelled at.
      nice that we have some to remember her by.

      Liked by 4 people

        1. Yes she did, BiR. If you click on Edith’s name under The Baboon Congress, all of her blogs will appear. She posted a lot of photos, off hand I don’t recall which particular post it was in, but I know it’s there.


  19. I’m very sorry to hear about Edith. I always appreciated her directness and clarity. Back when I was editing the blog I learned quickly that her guest posts were not to be messed with unless there was a good reason for interference that I could explain. She was never mean about resisting my tweaks and changes, but firm. The TB community’s love and support is on display in these comments and it is a joy to see Edith firmly in your embrace this weekend.
    Edith posted many blog entries, but as we all know the comments section is equally rich. By my reckoning she chimed in with 5,607 comments over the past 8 years, starting in June of 2011 with this one in response to Anna’s post “A World Around the Corner“, about frequenting the local library.

    Hi, I’m new here and was planning to lurk for a while longer (forever?) before I posted, but I just cannot resist this topic.

    It is good that Anna narrowed it down to my favorite books when I was a kid, because there are so many I discovered when I read books to my daughters when they were young and even now at my advanced age I still read kids’ books just because I enjoy them…which means I could have gone on nearly forever if Anna had asked what our favorite kids’ books were now and in the past.

    These are some of the books I loved as a kid: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss; Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown; a picture book I don’t remember the title of about a boy named Epandimonius (or something like that) who stepped in a bunch of pies that were cooling on the porch; Curious George; Harriet the Spy; My Side of the Mountain; The Four-Story Mistake; King of the Wind; One Morning in Maine; and the several volume set My Bookhouse (edited by Olive Beaupre Miller)

    Thanks to Anna for drawing her in, and to everyone else, for encouraging her to stay!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Ah, thank you for finding this Dale. I had forgotten about this post. And now knowing Edith a bit more, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that books drew her out. 🙂 So delighted that I had a hand in that.


  20. I know I have been “off Trail” a lot, but I was following along with Edith on Facebook and her CaringBridge site. I pretty much “unplugged” altogether this weekend, so this is very new news to me (I also got the news of another death I was not really expecting right before I saw Ruth’s message on Facebook, so I’m pretty stunned right now).

    Peace to you all.

    Liked by 2 people

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