A story of remembrance and a story of perseverance emerged from the Edelweiss neighborhood this week. Each elicits thoughtful reflection regarding the swiftness with which life can change and the transitory quality of life.
Mary Kiesau spent the last 15 of her short 45 years on Earth in the Methow Valley. She was much loved for her passion for everything that she participated in — the breadth of her interests as expansive as the magnificent photographic art she created.
Mary felt that life-long learning was essential for a full life and that every person is a student and a teacher. Learning and sharing with each other was the strength of a community, she believed.
When Mary died in April, 2020 after battling melanoma, she left behind a huge hole in the community. Family, friends, and residents of the Edelweiss neighborhood raised over $3,000 in under three days in order to commission a special metal bench to be placed in Mary’s honor in an open space that the community calls “The Upper Meadow.” Barry Stromberg completed the work of art and Mary’s life partner Merle Kirkley and Bob Sutherland recently installed the bench.
Sitting by myself on the bench on a beautiful fall day, even though I never met Mary, I felt her spirit all around: the waving grasses, the floating clouds, the silent mountains, and the bench designed to incorporate the natural world she loved. The inscription on the bench reads: In Memory of Mary Kiesau — our teacher, neighbor and friend. Volunteers planted a mixture of wild grass and flower seeds specially created by Rob Crandall from Methow Natives around the bench and look forward to seeing the plants come up in the spring.
Marian Osborne, also a resident of Edelweiss, is an inspiration of how an unexpected turn in life events can provide an opportunity to meet a challenge with fortitude. Marian was at the pinnacle of her physical fitness — a runner, biker, cross-country skier, self-proclaimed “gym rat” — when a fateful hemorrhagic stroke struck her down 14 years ago. Life itself weighed in the balance, but when she beat the odds of a very low survival rate, she found herself paralyzed on the left side.
“I went through the seven stages of grief,” she said. To get where she is today, she has had to accept her lot. “It’s not a story I’d like to tell, but it’s the one I have. It’s no cake walk.”
Marian was forced to give up all the things she loved to do to keep her physically and mentally challenged. After moving to the valley in 2005, she met Ginger, a therapy horse. Ginger provided a steady, reliable partner for Marian as they learned to work together with Marian’s limitations. Unfortunately, changes in the riding program left Marian without a steed to meet her needs.
For the past 12 months, Marian has been on a search for a levelheaded horse that could learn cues that are only available from her working right side and provide a comfortable, safe ride. Anyone who has searched for the “right” horse knows how very difficult it is to find. After a year of looking, Marian was on the verge of giving up when she received a phone call from her friend and fellow horse lover, Heidi Weston.
Heidi had received a phone call from her friend and horse trainer Sarah Clavel from Darrington. Sarah had a well trained, easy-riding, smart horse that needed to be retired from her job as lead horse in a pack train that ferried supplies to work crews in the mountains. Did Heidi know anyone who might be interested in the horse? Immediately, Heidi thought of Marian.
After checking compatibility for Marian’s and Rosa’s needs, the match seemed perfect. In an unexpected (but, knowing Sarah, not surprising) move, Sarah gifted Rosa to Marian. Marian is so looking forward to working with Rosa to help her learn the special equipment she uses to mount, dismount, rein, and ride safely. She has a horse to love again. Marian is especially appreciative to the Clarks at Bear Creek Equestrian Facility for their kindness and willingness to help her in any way they can.