Friends and admirers of the late Margaret Ellis, longtime director of our health center, gardener and farmer, arrived at Chewonki on Saturday, June 5, under a perfect sky to share memories, work in the perennial gardens, and enjoy tea, scones, and lunch in honor of the seventh annual Margaret Ellis Day. Also on deck were several students from the Elementary School at Chewonki and their parents. Participants young, old, and in-between mingled, which Ellis would have enjoyed. Surviving spouse and former Chewonki Executive Director Tim Ellis was also on hand to celebrate the day.
Margaret Ellis Day 2018 volunteers
Front row, left to right: Gavin, Jody Peck, Jennifer Bowdish, Sinead, Alexa, Seamus
Back row, left to right: Sarah Walbridge, Jan Slater, Mary Gene Myer, Jenn Barton, Lisa Paige, Susie Stedman, Henry Barber, Willard Morgan, Tim Ellis, Susan Bell, Warren Bell, Phine Ewing, Don Hudson
Missing: Ruth Appleyard and assorted others
President Willard Morgan noted that Ellis’s spheres of greatest influence–gardening, health, and nutrition–have become fundamental to Chewonki programs. Many of the protocols she taught for managing medical crises in the wilderness have turned out to be today’s best practices.
Susie Stedman spoke just before the group picked up their clippers, cultivators, and spades:
“This is one of my favorite days of the year, not only because we get to remember and honor Margaret by mucking around in her beautiful gardens at this wonderful place, but also because we get a chance to do it with other beloved friends whom we don’t otherwise see enough of.
“Margaret was a force of nature. She also had a magical way of making us laugh, healing our bodies and souls, and inspiring plants to thrive wherever she stuck them in the ground.
“I miss Margaret every day–and especially at this awakening time of the year.
“In early May the year before she died, she wrote to me: What a simply beautiful day we had today…a gift with lots of bird activity, raccoons trying to ransack my compost bins (I won, though), a fox hunting in the field, a bevy of turkeys passing through…it really was an astounding day.
“And later that summer, she reported: I’m just in from a digging frenzy in the garden. I have fought and won the invasion of the trailing buttercup! It was suffocating EVERYTHING, but NO MORE! “Out, damn spot,” I said, and after two days my border is back to equilibrium and ever so happy. So am I.”
Thank you, volunteers. Long live Margaret!