This week’s bitter cold has us looking forward to spring and the rebirth of our renowned heirloom peonies here at Gilsland Farm. At this time, however, we would like you to join us in fondly remembering Muriel Brown, who passed away on January 16.
Her longstanding devotion to our mission and constant “spring” attitude about life served as a regular encouragement as we went about our work on behalf of Maine’s wildlife.
Our records don’t go back far enough to know, however, not long ago we recognized her as our longest standing member. A member of our Peony Circle of Friends, which recognizes supporters of 20 years or more, Muriel talked with us in 2005 about her devotion to wildlife and nature.
Muriel Brown arrived at the Peony Bloom and Ice Cream Social wearing her jaunty red garden hat brimming with flowers and an owl t-shirt in honor of Maine Audubon and the peonies. At that time we learned a little more about her history with Maine Audubon.
Muriel remembers joining Maine Audubon before she was married and attending programs in the downtown Portland Society of Natural History building at 22 Elm St where the public library now resides, from which Maine Audubon originated.
She recalled that on one ill-fated birding boat trip, the boat sprung a leak near Bath and they had to limp into dock, bailing all the way. Given that she and her recently deceased husband Charlie had just celebrated their 50th anniversary, she thought she had been a member for more than 50 years.
Raised in Bath, she met and married Charlie, who was a charming musician and outdoorsman. Her father-in-law sparked her interest in birds as he could identify many bird songs. His favorite was the catbird and Muriel told us she loved it best also. The Browns had 6 children, 3 boys and 3 girls right after another. Muriel loved to attend Maine Audubon’s programs as an excuse to get out of the house, and when the children were older, she also liked for her children to attend programs to get them outdoors. She remained a member years later because she loves birds and nature and what Maine Audubon does for them.
Muriel liked to garden and bird watch in her backyard. She recalled to us when grocery stores used to give suet away, but later she had to pay $1 for it and, that she would set it out during the day for the birds only to take it in at night so the raccoons wouldn’t raid the feeders! In her later years she did not garden as much and the Peony event was a great occasion to put on her gardening hat and enjoy a nice evening with the folks she has supported for over 50 years.
Our thanks to Muriel’s family for letting us know of Muriel’s passing, and for suggesting a gift to Maine Audubon in her honor in lieu of flowers. We appreciate this closing expression of Muriel’s dedication to nature and wildlife and will remember her fondly.