Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fallen Leaves

When the leaves fall away, the secret worlds underneath are exposed. I took this photo of a bird nest in small tree just off the bike path running along the railway in north Takoma Park, MD. It is now empty and I'm no ornothologist, but whatever breed built it did a sturdy job. It is lined with a thick layer of mud and straw like an upside-down adobe hut. Looked pretty cozy.
A group email from the Landscape Designers Group brought to my attention the obituary of Sigrid von Bremen Thomas in last Sunday's Washington Post. I'd link to it, but I just spent precious minutes searching away on their user-UNfriendly site. If the obit is not published this very day or in the archives prior to August 1, 2007, you have to be a master sleuth to find it. Here is the text that the LDG forwarded:

Sigrid von Bremen Thomas Landscape Designer, Equestrian Sigrid von Bremen Thomas, 75, a former Life magazine photo editor who became a Washington area landscape designer and writer on horticulture as well as an equestrian, died Oct. 22 at her home in Potomac. She had ovarian cancer. Mrs. Thomas designed home gardens for the past 30 years. From 1987 to 2004, she published the Woodland Garden, a quarterly newsletter with advice on growing plants in the suburban shade. She was born in Tallinn, Estonia, and raised on the Baltic coast, where her father, a Baltic nobleman who struggled after the Communist revolution, eventually found work growing flowers and tomatoes. During World War II, she spent part of her childhood in Poland under German control and later under Soviet rule. After the war, she trained as a dressmaker and fashion designer and fled to Allied territory in Germany at great risk in 1951. In her group of 12 escapees, she was one of two who successfully made the border crossing. She chronicled much of her early life in a memoir, "Goodbye Stalin," published this year. Mrs. Thomas entered the United States in 1955 under the Refugee Relief Act and, after working as a seamstress, was a film editor for Life magazine's photo department in New York from 1958 to 1970. She settled in the Washington area after her husband, Rich Thomas, became a Washington-based reporter for Newsweek magazine. She was a former board president of the Potomac Valley Dressage Association. Besides her husband of 50 years, of Potomac, survivors include two children, Karina Thomas of Denver and Stryk Thomas of Potomac; and a brother.
I have a couple back issues of the delightful Woodland Garden (wish I had them all!) and spoke to Sigrid a few times by phone a year or so ago. Just from those brief talks I could tell she was a wonderful, generous spirit. I had no idea of her background nor her interest in dressage! An obit can only tell a fraction of the story and there is so much more to this woman that many of us will never know and mores the pity for it.

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