June 23, 2014

"Our Elm Tree" A Poem By Betsy Foster -1961

Our Elm Tree
By Betsy Foster (age 16)
July 10, 1961 Schuylerville, NY 

“There is a lovely elm tree standing in our yard.
Its branches wave a welcome that no one can disregard.
It keeps the sun from blinding grandma when she reads
and gladly shields the pleasant lawn for which the baby pleads. 

So many birds have had their nests among the leaves so green,
that keep their tiny little homes as private as a dream.

So many dawns have wakened it and dried its dewy head;
so many sunsets said ‘Good Night’ and put the birds to bed.

How many pleasant memories the elm trees must possess, 
and each small leaf and secret holds, to keep and not confess.

It must be very dear to all for it to live so long.
I think it is God’s symbol here of beauty, clean and strong.

Its strong brown roots grasp Mother Earth as if to prove to all
what riches lie in God’s good soil to make it grow so tall.

Its glorious crown of verdure green stands symbol to us here
that any farmer’s greatest dream is really very near.”


The poem above was found in Jack Lewis's book "The Hudson River." It was written by Betsy Foster in 1961. I was able to verify that Jack mistakenly used the last name Forster in his book instead of Foster. Jack stayed with the family during the summer of 1961 while painting scenes along the Hudson River. He painted one of the Foster family farm and one of Betsy's mother Margaret holding her sister Mary Anne. When I spoke to Betsy in June 2014 she confided in me that at the time her mother Margaret did help young Betsy complete this poem. 

I must add that when I returned to the Foster family farm on June 22, 2014 birds filled the trees surrounding the home still today. The lawn was lush and Ireland green. The old elm may be gone but its legacy remains tall and intact. 

The first day I met the Foster's I had left my camera at home so I was unable to compare Jack's painting to the present day look of the home. I returned a few days later and was fortunate to find Tom Foster in the yard greasing his tractor. I asked if I could take some pictures of the house. Tom's generous response was, "Sure, help yourself." Before I left I spotted a bicycle resting beneath a tree next to the driveway. It looked so peaceful sitting there in the shade that I took the liberty of snapping it's portrait. I thought I would write my own poem to mirror Betsy's from 1961. Here's my view from a few feet away, separated by 53 years. 

Resting Quietly
By John R. Greenwood

Resting quietly beneath the canopy of a summer afternoon
spokes nestled in cool grass seem content to lie still 
the ride here feels soft and calm
no movement a pleasant pause in time

While the world runs rampant 
out of control 
out of line
I will simply park here for awhile
resting quietly
at peace



  1. Like your words in Resting Quietly. We sure do need times like you describe. Nice images of the historic Foster home, -- barbara

  2. What a beautiful meditation today, John. I love the personification of the bicycle resting quietly beneath the canopy of the elm's wide embrace. Just this morning I saw a deer on my walk in the desert canyon (Arizona) so I feel doubly blessed to come home to read yet another reminder that we are "quieted with His love" (a phrase from my morning meditation from the book of Zehpaniah, chapter 3:17) All these things coming together are making this a most peaceful morning. I miss elm trees having grown up in Michigan. Blessings to all who gather here to read John's wonderful insights.