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  • Rebecca Drew

Landscape Legacy

The beauty of nature transcends time, as I rediscovered from an email, of all places.

Rose Garden

Not too long ago, I heard from a descendant of the McSorley family ranch where my great-grandfather visited. Back in 1938, he was evidently so moved by the place that he wrote a poem to honor it. It was incredibly gratifying to hear from someone whose aunts shared their copy of the poem, because I had no idea that someone else knew about it. How reaffirming, knowing they felt it was important to keep as part of their landscape legacy, along with a current descendant reaching out.


The timing was good when I heard from the individual whose family had an impact on my ancestor. I had been wondering, does anyone ever stop to smell the roses anymore? Does it matter if I talk about it? While contemplating whether or not to continue this journal, I stumbled across this quote, attributed to Robert Léger. I do not have the original source document, so I apologize if this is misquoted. Here is the quote followed by a translation:


Dans notre société du paraître, les choses de l'esprit comptent peu, puisqu'elles sont invisibles. -Robert Léger

English translation:


In our society of appearances,

things of the mind matter little,

since they are invisible.


This journal almost ended when I read this quote. However, that was on a day when the world news was just too much, yet I knew better than to end the journal. Besides, lovely spring tulips were just emerging outside the window, so it was a matter of stepping away for a few days to enjoy short bouts with nature. The high pollen alerts meant masks were in order, but as you know, other world events prepared us for that. Even a painful insect sting did not stop me from going back outside to admire the swelling grape buds and new rose leaves. Despite allergies to fire ants and poison ivy and all sorts of mysterious botanicals, nature is still a healing balm, and this website will further explore nature's bounty ranging from heirloom fruits and vegetables to landscape legacies that have endured the test of time.


As for that quote, I found it on a website belonging to a group promoting the Beauce region of Québec, where my great-grandfather's family originated before he moved to California. While he did not seem to talk much about his Canadian roots, he indeed planted real roots at his final home in Napa. Perhaps he was trying to capture a bit of what he experienced at the McSorley's "Home among the Hills" that filled his heart with gladness, based on his words. I have been told that he often escaped to his lovely flower gardens to feed the birds who feasted on real Napa grapes, even though he admitted he was more of a plum person; the grapevines were literally for the birds. Perhaps that explains my willingness to let birds nest in my vines, as well as my preference for plums despite planting over a hundred grapevines instead of plum trees. How nice to know that I would have potentially found a kindred spirit in this ancestor I never met, thanks to a connection with nature.


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