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Personal Remembrances

Patty DiLauria

Now at the beginning of the New Year, and with the snow falling in Connecticut, the temperatures outdoors in the 20’s, let me tell you a story about Springtime, and about Laura.   

Many years ago, Laura bought her beloved home in Danbury.  It was a place with a contemporary home nestled in the woods and down a field, and across a pond, there was a studio perched over a stream.  It must have been the second year that she owned the place I came to call ‘Water Song’, when I visited her in late Spring.  I recall how excited and pleased she was to be living there, surrounded by trees and water and rocks and fields.  It was  ever so beautiful there.


Over that winter, Laura had decided to garden.  Being a city girl, I suppose that she had studied a good deal about gardening during the wintry days, then the cold, gloomy ones that would have followed.  Anyway, her garden was perfectly sited off to the side, a pathway leading through a hedgerow.  It was in full sun, the soil marvelously rich.  And it was large, maybe 20’ X 30’ in dimension.  For a first-time gardener, it was quite the vision and undertaking. 

With baskets in hand so that we might gather up a salad for dinner, I followed Laura.  The garden was magical.  It was outlined with string and wooden poles, tied no higher than 3 feet from the ground.  And tied to the string, Laura had fastened ribbons here and there on all 4 sides.  Hot pink ribbons.  They were fluttering in the breezes.  She explained to me that deer could be a problem for gardens, and while she didn’t mind sharing, she had read that deer could at any given moment decimate all that was there.  And, so, she thought of this way to deter them.  Imagine:  string and fluttering pink ribbons. 


The real beauty of it, aside from the surprise to the eye, was that it did work.  Not only did deer not come while I was there, and we were able to fresh-pick our salads each day, but they never did come during that whole growing season.  Given what I know about gardening, and it’s a fair amount, Laura’s insight worked.  No books tell a gardener to do this.  No book would ever suppose that it could possibly be effective.  And most likely this poetic approach to gardening could only have worked for Laura.  She had a way about her.  And she had the ability to truly believe in magic. 



 Patty DiLauria

Books.  If there was anything Laura loved to have all around her, it was books.  There were certainly a thousand volumes in her cottage, all of them beautifully accessible on simple shelves on one wall of the cottage. 

They were organized by category:  poetry, art books, fiction, feminism, animals, sociology, philosophy, etc.  Her library was a world of riches, riches of the mind and soul. 

As time would have it, I had opportunity to enjoy Laura’s books during the last months of her life. It’s funny, but a particular volume entitled, “Art and Nature”, an illustrated anthology of nature and poetry, caught and held my attention.  It is a slim volume as these things go and, perhaps because the demands of life and death at this time were so present, it became a treasure to me.  Fine art, fine poetry----quickly, quickly seen, read & sustaining.   

Early one afternoon when Laura was feeling well and, for once in such a long while, the sun was streaming in the windows, I suggested that we three, Laura, Maria and I might play a game.  Even before I said what it was, Laura and Maria were IN.   

Well, I said as I brought the book to them, what if we, each of us singly,  look through this book and find a work of art that is perfect for expressing the nature of each of our souls----and why? Each of us will take the time to rifle through the pages and mark the art work that we think will best express how we perceive the others and ourselves.  I passed around the sticky note pads---one color for each of us.  

I don’t remember who went first, but I know that I went last because I had already done the assignment, before it was an assignment.  When things were still and quiet and all by myself, and just for myself. 

Time passed and the liquid, golden sunshine was the only thing moving through the cottage.  The silence was profound. It was like being in a cathedral when no one was there.  First  one, then the other, and finally, I marked the pages.  We all waited.  Who would go first and explain the why of our selections ?   

The time kept passing, slowly, languorously, as we did a show- and- tell.  We, each of us, hung on the words of explanation of the others.  Never before, nor since, have I shared such sweet intimacy with words and with art as the medium. 

 To say that it was fascinating would be an understatement.  In this book there are 145 paintings from which we might choose.  We each selected one work of art for each of us, the one that best expressed the others’ soul as well as our own to us. Our choices and our reasons were all different, all very individualized. There was one exception:  both Laura and Maria selected the same work of art that personified me.  It wasn’t the one I had selected for myself.  Their reasons were different, but they chose the same painting.  I was stunned. And what I has always known was confirmed:  the depth of their connectedness was profound.

When we were all through, the game all played out and the sun going low in the sky, Laura said, “Now THAT’S a great use for a book!”   

We had spent a few hours, enjoying the finest things in life, art and dialogue, and one another.  And quite honestly, when I consider the sincerity we put into our efforts to communicate with one another so deeply, I feel that this represents the greatness possible within each and every one of us, here and now. May I suggest that you play the game?                                                                   

P.S.  I’ve looked at this painting numerous times since then, and even had the opportunity to see it in an exhibit.  Every time I look at it, I’m grateful that this is how they knew me. It is Pierre Bonnard’s “The Terrace at Vernon”.


Barbara Cobb

  I remember one winter...I was in Connecticut....it was a very long time ago...when Michaels brother Keith was living there and helping Laura with the house and gilly...I remember that Laura had this very old car...like an old station wagon...I think it was probably falling apart...anyhow...we were driving back to zinn rd from the store and the car got completely stuck in the winter snow...so we had to get out and walk at nite to the cottage.....but it was just so much fun...I remember we were laughing alot at the situation.......we were slipping and sliding down the hill...slightly out of control...but deep inside there was ,as always such a feeling of joy and lightheartedness.....looking up at the winter sky...feeling the stillness of the winter night....it just always felt like poetry to be with laura...filled with mystery...and love...and always laughter....
i miss her...as i know you do also....i dream about her and she always seems happy and giving blessings......

Danny Nigro 

 In the early 90s, backstage after a solo show Laura had done, Laura and I were sitting around chatting about music and old R&B and "girl group" songs.  I asked her about the Heebie-Jeebies song she'd started to sing in her shows, as I wasn't familiar with it.  Laura said that she had remembered the song fondly from her youth, and decided to start singing it in her shows, relying on her memory of the tune.  She said she remembered the song a certain way, and proceeded to sing the first couple of lines from the song to demonstrate, "Got the heebie-jeebies, got the shakes...," in that rich, mature tone, with that unmistakable Laura lilt, just the same as how she sang it in the shows. 

Then she said that someone had recently given her the 45 of the song by The Crystals, and giggled when she explained that she was surprised at how different it sounded from how she'd remembered it, and again sang the first couple of lines, but this time imitating what the 45 sounded like, and sang the same line again, but sped up and in her best helium-falsetto.  It was very funny--Laura as a Chipmunk.  She was so cute sometimes.  Another example of how our memories can tweak realities.  It was a very sweet moment.

Nancy Friedman

When I was spending a lot of time with Laura, around the time that Laura was working on Mother's Spiritual and Gil was just in his infancy, we went up to my land in the Berkshires quite a few times. l979-l980 was also the year that the Gypsy moths absolutely devastated the trees up in that area . It was on one of those trips that I recall as we were passing through this area where the mountains of the Taconic range stretch for a good distance as you drive along, to give you an awesome vista of mountains and sky, that Laura was writing in her book and I remember trying to refrain from speaking, which is not always so easy for me, to give her the space to write. When we arrived at the land best described as the wilderness, we met my parents who were inside the house. My mother reminds me that Laura asked them what that loud and unbearable noise was as she was holding her ears. They told her that it was the tent caterpillars eating the leaves, so you can imagine the enormous infestation that was reeking havoc on the forest and the sensitivity of Laura's ears to be so disturbed by the sound.

Anyway, when I read those lyrics to a Wilderness I realized what a perfect description cinnamon hills and waves of whisper blue was of that beautiful vista even in spite of the deforestation due to the infestation that summer which left the mountains that rare cinnamon color. Every time I take that drive now as well as being inspired by the view I recall that drive and that wonderfully poetic and accurate description of what we had seen. Thanks Laura for putting that unique moment in time, into words.