In Memoriam – Our Little Jail Bird

It was this weekend last year that we lost of Little Jail Bird, Edith.  In her memory, I’m running her most iconic posting on the Trail.


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.

Any comments / reflections welcome!


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

  1. Thanks so much, VS, for re-posting this. It’s so good to hear her voice again! Sniff.

    We were so lucky to have known LJB, and be able to see her handiwork. This is when I’m especially glad for the technology we have that allows us to share these.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. I wish this was not so, Baboons.

    I am glad you chose this post today, VS. It features LJB’s photographic eye, which only her photos can fully demonstrate. I hope that at the end of my life, I leave some small legacy that is so beautiful. Certainly “brown” does not accurately describe what she found that day at the park.

    This was such a sad thing last summer. The sadness lingers on—even as I write this I am crying. I think of Edith so often, even after a year. I have some of her notecards at my desk, some of which I use, but I have kept one of each picture. That final one I just don’t want to send simply because I love the pictures. I have long loved nature photography and she was simply so good at it. Her images were exquisite. On my computer desktop is the favorite photo, The Heron.

    I think that on this blog we were so fortunate to experience LJB’s wildly funny humor, her photographic eye, herself. Our joint ramblings have created a place for each of us to show up as we are, without censor. We got to know the very best of Edith here.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. she was so special
    it was fun to watch her get so fired up about her photography
    it came out of nowhere and was 100% what she was driven by.

    i love remembering the intro edith had with the group and how she became ljb.
    at her gathering after the death the non baboons were confused as to why ljb meant on the postings she did. they got a big kick out of the story of its source.
    i don’t remember it exactly but it was something about her overhearing a conversation at a bus stop about money and a suitcase and we spun that into her being involved in the robbery.
    when we met at the book club it was perfect.
    damn mortality anyway….

    Liked by 7 people

  4. The first time I met LJB in person was at PJ’s house for the spring gardening clean up. I remember her taking charge of the side garden and just going at it with gusto. She did a lot of things with gusto.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. By the way, just a reminder or newsflash to those who haven’t seen her stuff before, if you click on any of the pictures you’ll get a larger view and then you can do a slideshow of them all. It won’t surprise any of you to know that Edith was very particular about what order the pictures were in for the slideshow.


  6. Thank you, VS; I miss Edith. I too have several of her cards that will not be sent, as well as one sensational fall foliage shot printed on metal, that reminds me of her every time I see it. She was a wonderful person who had found her passion and should still be with us fulfilling the plans and dreams that has just started to come together for her.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I mostly said what I wanted to say about Edith a year ago. While the “jailbird” identity was a joke for her, she experienced much of her life as a person confined and unsure of where she wanted to go. Late in her life she experienced two sunny spots where she could bloom: this web site and in nature behind her camera.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They were twins, twins with unbounded energy. She was their babysitter for years. Edith could be funny as she described the difficulties of that, and yet she loved those kids and valued her time with them.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. I wish I had something meaningful to contribute to this conversation, but the truth is, I feel as lost as everyone else when it comes to Edith. I miss her voice on the trail, and I’m sad that a huge gamble she took in terms of treatment didn’t pan out. I never imagined that it would turn out the way it did, or at least not so quickly.

    That said, I think Edith knew how loved and supported she was by the baboons, and I have no doubt at all that she counted each and every one of us as an important part of her support system. I hope she’s resting easy.

    Liked by 6 people

  9. OT YouTube channel recommendations. Hey, gang, I have three wonderful channels to share with you today. I hope they are so good you will forgive me for what I plan to share next Sunday. These channels have nothing in common beyond the fact I only recently discovered them. The last two recommended channels feel like college classroom analyses at its very best.

    First is a channel called “Off Camera with Sam Jones.” Jones is an LA-based photographer who became famous for his music videos. He then drifted into new territory, doing interviews with actors. Jones shoots long interviews, cutting out short sections that he can package as YouTube videos. A month ago I would have told you the last thing I want to see is another self-obsessed actor answering questions about his or her inner life. A lifetime of watching such stuff on late night talk shows convinced me that few things are as cringeworthy as actors answering superficial questions and telling boring stories.

    But Sam Jones does not traffic in predictable, scripted interviews. His questions are smart. The answers are surprisingly thoughtful. Unlike the vast majority of interviewers, Jones listens to the answers. Not surprisingly, the filming of these interviews—black and white and radically simple—is as remarkable as the conversations. For me, these interviews are like Cracker Jack: if I consume one, I can’t wait to get to the next one.

    I just discovered a brilliant series of discussions that run on YouTube under the name of “Art Assignment.” The irony of this discovery is that the woman who created this series has just announced she is burned out and must pull back from the effort of doing these. Still, there is a wonderful assortment of videos in the can, and Sarah Urist Green hasn’t really gone away. She’s just tapering off a bit.

    Art Assignment is all about art, art history and art appreciation. This is an area of scholarship I managed to avoid in college, and now I’m hustling to make up. This woman is brilliant. She writes well, although she presents intriguing ideas at such a rapid clip that I struggle to keep up with her. If Art History had been this scintillating in college, I wouldn’t have avoided the classes as I did.

    My newest discovery, “Vox,” is hard to define because it takes on all sorts of topics and questions and doesn’t have an agenda. You can trust Vox videos to be smart, visually intriguing and relatively short. While Vox doesn’t have a narrow ideological stance, its videos are a bit left of center. Vox excels at conveying complex issues with clever graphics, and it takes care to support statements with research. I just viewed a Vox video on wolf management, an issue I know. The video is, in my opinion, factual and balanced.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also like Art Assignment. I discovered it because she is married to the author John Green, who I follow. (whom I follow??)


  10. Echoing P. J.’s comments, Edith was a treasure, as are you all, but I don’t think she was accustomed to thinking of herself that way. I don’t know much about Edith’s history or her personal life but I did see her becoming less self-deprecating through her years on the Trail.

    I know she valued the uncritical support and friendship from Baboons. She was on a new trajectory and it was exciting to witness. It all ended way too soon.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Edith was shy and quiet. I might have known her better than anyone else on this site, Bill. I think your description of her life voyage is quite accurate. Before she established herself as an accomplished photographer, Edith felt she had relatively little to offer. Photography gave her a new identity and source of pride.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. You have all said what I would say, too: I loved watching ljb blossom here. She had such a wonderful wit, keen eye for photography, and quiet presence. I miss her. And I too have a card that I will keep – one of her fall leaves.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I am reminded that I have a couple of Edith’s cards left that I haven’t sent. I know exactly where they are; I think I’m going to take them out of the card box and mount them in my studio.

      Liked by 4 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.