In Memoriam – Our Little Jail Bird

It was this week two years ago 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!

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

  1. Wow – thanks Sherrilee, hard to believe it’s been two years already. She did have a way with the camera, didn’t she. So glad she recognized it before she left.

    If anyone can find/remember the story of how she got her name LJB, that would be worth posting again…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. tim always kept track of that story, so I hope he can tune in to this today.

      She was so funny in a dry, understated way. The significant thing about that name for her, though, is that although it was a joke on the Trail, in her life she did feel so constrained by the circumstances she lived with. I did not realize, until I got to know her better, how limited her life was because of her unhappy marriage. Her photos were her freedom.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are exactly right, Jacque. I think Edith had regrets about her life, although she always did the best she could under the circumstances. When she discovered her flair for photography, everything changed. She suddenly knew what her special gift in life was. Photography was both a passion and an exciting new identity for her. I think of her daily, for her waterfall photo sits over my left shoulder when I’m at my computer.

        Liked by 4 people

    2. This is Clyde. My fault. I told a story so many years ago about how I used to collect old books and notebooks and such. Friend had a f-I-l who cleaned out old houses and let me pick through books or he would find me things he knew I liked. One little notebook went from about 1912 to 1936. All handwritten stuff like recipes with old style measurements. But our favorite in all of the books was one entry for a date somewhere in about 1928. It said “Edith went to jail.” Such a fun little cryptic note to apply you imagination to. I told the story on old blog. People picked up on it. She herself picked the moniker Littlejailbird.

      Liked by 7 people

  2. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    This morning I stepped out onto my deck and looked down on the little garden I replanted this week. “Edith the Bleeding Heart,” one of the plants 3 of us split and took from LJB’s garden, is thriving there. When I miss her wit and photography I go talk to that plant. This is an overflow confession of our bad habit post of yesterday. I have been sending out cards with LJB’s photography for 2 years now. I recently mailed off the last one to my BIL on occasion of his retirement from nursing. I loved her photos. The flying heron is still my favorite.

    I am sitting out here on my porch as I do most mornings. About 6:45am I heard a loud explosion, then sirens. Uh-oh.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. It was my understanding that Edith was given a terrible choice by her Mayo clinic doctors. Her condition could only be cured by a procedure that had 50-50 odds of ending her life. Declining the procedure meant she could live, but it would be a marginal, highly compromised sort of life. Risking the procedure offered a prospect for death or a fully restored life. She chose to live fully or not at all.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I always thought that she made a very brave choice. And she made that choice with a calmness that I’m not sure most of us could emulate.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. I read this while on the bicycle at the gym. I had just been wishing that Edith would post a reply from wherever she is now. What do you know. She did.

      Liked by 5 people

    1. She was petite and sweet. She gave a lot to others and had a wonderful dry sense of humor. She was extremely generous. She helped raise her twin grandkids, who were quite a handful. Jacque is not the only one who has cuttings from her garden that we cherish. She took a wonderful trip out west and spent time with Steve and they forged a close friendship. Others have mentioned her discovered passion for photography, which she shared with us. She was an accomplished baker and often brought homemade bread to gatherings. I still make her lavender lemon shortbread.

      We miss her a lot.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Fenton, if you click on the magnifying glass at top right of your screen and type in the letters ljb, the header photo on that particular blog is a photo of some of the baboons, including Edith, front row, second from the left.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, PJ, I had seen the picture before and identified some baboons, namely, Bill, Robin, Sherrilee and yourself (I think). But had the wrong one as Edith.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. She worked SO hard that day. I Remember that she kind of took on the little side garden as her project.


        2. Front row, left to right: Edith, Barbara in Rivertown, Linda and verily sherrilee. Back row, left to right: Bill, Robin (Bill’s wife and rare visitor to the trail), Lisa (who rarely visits the trail anymore), Krista (who pops in only very occasionally nowadays) and PJ. Steve was the photographer and made no effort to be captured in the photo. There are other baboon photos with some of the other baboons in them. Chances are Steve might have shared some of those with you.

          Liked by 2 people

        3. Honestly, everyone except Steve and I worked hard that day, and made a huge difference. The yard looked so much better by the end of the day. It was also a nice opportunity for several baboons to get to know one another and share a meal together.

          Liked by 3 people

        4. I wasn’t physically able to, and neither was Steve. He did a wonderful job of documenting the “event” via photos, as he has done at several other baboon gatherings.


        5. Does anyone know what the line-up at Rock Bend is, i.e. what days and times the various performers are playing. I’m interested, but also pretty damn iffy, unfortunately.

          Liked by 1 person

        6. I don’t see any lineups or list of who is performing this year on their website. But I bet Krista would know.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. This will appear at end of a lengthening thread, so I’ll answer several, now y’all have hooked me in. So much for sitting this one out. Yes, PJ, I have seen another photo or two, and am gradually figuring things out by default (without having to work, I mean). I saw a mention of an accident somewhere, and am guessing this photo is to do with that. Maybe I’m wrong.
        Tim, thank you. Play your cards right, who knows, I may stick around.
        Luckily for y’all, got to go now.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It was during the spring and PJ had been an accident, no fault of her own. Unfortunately she was unable to do any kind of significant physical labor for several weeks. She lamented at one point how much the garden was suffering because she couldn’t get out and do any work in it. So we met on a Saturday morning at her place, got the gardens to rights and then had a wonderful potluck lunch.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Actually, the accident was entirely my own fault. I tripped and fell in my own house, and was out of commission for months with three fractured bones


  4. edith
    chris in owatanna

    not many have popped in and stayed and become a part of our little community

    it’s a group that is small, diverse and wonderful enjoyed

    not everybody gets it

    edith got it

    we were lucky

    Liked by 5 people

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