Sunshine and Sky

Wonders 76 Lake Michigan and Mona

I met Ramona in 1971.  With a friendship as dear as this, I learned about how much fun life could be!  Ramona had a boyfriend.  I learned about and anticipated life experiences through the sharing of her experiences.  We walked for miles and miles together and while we did, Ramona would recount many adventures and amazed, I would rattle off my stories to her.  Ramona was one of the dearest and truest people in my life during those years.

She and I would dance in her bedroom.  I always compared her to Janis Joplin.  She called me Sky and I called her Sunshine.  She strung mismatched printed handkerchiefs on strands of trim and from this, created clothing.  She would dance with her arms completely free and open, spinning in circles to Black Sabbath.  We would laugh and talk as we wandered Lakeside in the dark.  We had no need of alcohol because we were both always so ‘high’ on life.  I felt free through her…her experience of music…her freedom to dance…her story.

She wore bangles and beads and her copper hair hung well past her bum, as her mother’s always did.  Ramona sang like a bird.  I whistled, because I rarely knew the words. We made pancakes whenever I slept over and her Mom hugged and loved me.  The last time I visited Mona in Manistee, Michigan,  I treasured the fact that she made us pancakes…just like old times.

On January 11th, Ramona retired from her role with the forestry service.  Through all of her years and various locations, Ramona always kept in touch with me.  I have compiled a full memory book of her wanderings and achievements and treasure her cards and letters, holding them always dear to my heart.  I am so proud of you, Ramona, and know that we’ll be connecting to do some traveling.  Congratulations, dear friend!

The following autobiographical information was shared by Ramona as a part of her retirement invitation.  I only regret that I couldn’t be by her side as she celebrated such a milestone.

Friends, Forest Service family, volunteers and project partners; I am retiring on January 12, 2013.  After 34 years, and 5 months of employment with the Federal Government (on the Beaverhead, Clearwater, Flathead, Los Padres, Lolo, Nicolet and Huron Manistee National Forests and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Temuco, Southern Chile.) New adventures are calling.  Here are a few career highlights, besides meeting and working with you:

® Wildfire and emergency assignments, especially as an Information Officer- for Hurricane Katrina in San Antonio, the Chicken Fire in Alaska and The Wesley Fire Complex on the Payette NF  this fall…

® Details with Wilderness; to The Aldo Leopold Center  in Missoula, and Training for Line Officers at Ninemile Station, to Guatemala with The Sister Forest Program and to the White Mountain NF -to enter trails data after Hurricane Irene

® Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness data collection, and kayaking recreation patrols on the Pine and Manistee rivers

® Working with and training volunteers and interns, from clubs and universities, and sharing information and ideas

® Monitoring Recreation Special Use Events and working with the event organizers, photographing participants

® Our partnership with “Explore the Shores” for improving Universal access to Manistee County river access sites

® Speaking to outdoor, school and youth groups, and representing the Forest Service at conventions and meetings

® Brainstorming with colleagues at Forest Service trainings, such as The Eastern and Southern Region University and at Clemson University as part of the 3-week intensive Outdoor Recreation Planner Course

® Organizing, planning for and conducting National Visitor Use Monitoring surveys with our forest visitors

® Leading trail hikes for The Forest Festival in Manistee and coordinating National Trails Day Events, as well as

® My Peace Corps assignment with the Ministry of Education in Chile, designing 5th grade environmental education curriculum, making a National Park slide program  for schools and organizing youth conservation summer camps

Reflections

Scents of pine, crunchy leaves, crystal snow, nose-hair freeze, I’ll still walk the forest trails, but without badges or uniforms regales.

Glistening shores, swift flash of fish, turtle’s splash, water’s itch, paddling onward fast and slow, I’ll be there too, don’tcha know.

Singing sand, fossil stones, bits of glass, pockets full, but a chorus of friends harmonize too, “come couch surf please; we’ve places new to travel and explore with you”.

Memories newly made or old, you’ll be with me too- minus blanket hogs or snores.

Reading, beading, polishing stones…, resale shop treasure hunts, volunteering, learning to teach English to non-native speakers, or even how to do computer Webpage Design, pottery creations, water color painting, writing and music listening too; oh my… “There is so much to do”!

Re-invention, re-tirement, waking with the sun, looking forward not back, perhaps I’ll even relax.

Thank you all, it’s been wonderful!

Mona 2April 2010 014 R

4 thoughts on “Sunshine and Sky

  1. Thank you very much for sharing the story of such a beautiful friendship. I get the impression that Ramona will know just how to make retirement an opportunity for more adventures and a still deeper appreciation of life.

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