Tasting Life

Nov 09, 2021

The discovery of a lost ancestor makes a deeper connection to celebrating and remembering, expanding and constricting, aligning with Mother Nature’s cadence

Hello November — you glorious and complicated month of beginnings, endings, celebrations, vulnerabilities and stirrings. Wind and foliage rustling, chill and change are in the air. I welcome it all. As the last leaves of the season gently cascade to the ground and the temperatures dramatically shift here in the Catskill Mountains (and I scramble to dig out our winter gear), it is also birthday time…both mine and my daughter True’s.

And this year she turned 16! How did that happen?! It felt as if she was just a little girl when I purchased the café 6 years ago and embarked upon this journey with you. I guess you could say that we’ve both grown up in the embrace of our beautiful Garden Café community — and for this I am grateful.

Our birthdays are nestled amongst Halloween, All Soul’s Day, and Thanksgiving…as if we are kicking off the holiday season. Each year, time seems to speed up. It feels like I just opened the garden for summer; planting and cleaning — and the next thing I knew we were serving hot cider and the epic Woodstock Halloween parade was marching by our front door. It’s time to say, “see you later” to the outdoor service in the garden (though admittedly, I go kicking and screaming and don’t want to let go). It’s time to go in — to the restaurant and ourselves.

We can stumble over transitions or embrace them.

I usually do a bit of both. But it all calls to be celebrated — new routines and rhythms. My heart starts to get nostalgic at this time of year as well. It is both the time I was born and the time I became a mother. This year when my friend asked me, “what do you want to do for your birthday?” I felt quieter. Though usually raring to go on an adventure — I wasn’t called to get on a plane or travel far, until she declared…”I know what we are doing…I’m taking you to Maine!” A road trip was in order.

I have never been to Maine just a few state lines away and yet have always felt it calling — and for good reason, it is the land of my ancestors. In celebrating True’s birthday, I began to think about the great uncle she is named after, Roger True Lane. I don’t know if it’s because of the time of year, my age, my Scorpio nature or just my life journey, but I wanted to explore deeper connections and callings — to celebrate life through honoring death and all of those who came before me.

I craved to stand on the land that held my history. I remember my mother telling me the story of my great uncle, only 21 years old when his plane was shot down over Belgium on Christmas Eve 1944 during World War II. Though known to be dead, his remains were never found…until 50 years later when children playing in a marsh came across his plane.

A beautiful story unfolded when he was finally put to rest, returned home to Maine in a plot his father, Beecher, created for him though he never lived to see. His mother, Ruth, died 2 years after her son originally went missing, yet something tells me they both know their son is home.

So this year, when my friend declared… “road trip”, I knew I wanted to build it around finding Roger’s grave (that and some really good food!).

So off we set for a few glorious days of exploration; Portland, sea air, delicious food, new friends, curiosity, coastal views, great coffee, rocks, boats, inspiration, art, shopping, design, architecture, meandering, day dreaming, conversation, Yarmouth, Ogonquit, history, Portsmouth and graveyards.

The morning we arrived at the cemetery was glorious; a sparkly, bright sunny day, blue skies and the entire graveyard was illuminated by yellow and gold leaves gently falling like a dream state. It was like we were caught in a snow globe. Suddenly when we parked the car, we realized we had no clue where the grave was located. But we weren’t going to let that stop us. With our bellies full from breakfast, we stepped out of the car into the frost of the morning (a little stunned at how cold it was, but hey, it was Maine) and we set off determined to find the plot.

We decided to separate and divide and conquer — walking rows and rows upon sacred land amongst the dead. It felt holy and meditative. I wasn’t dressed warmly enough, but couldn’t give up. Quietly, I prayed and honored each grave and soul that I passed — and I asked Roger to let me find him. He was once lost, but I wanted to sit with him and wasn’t leaving until he was found by me. 

Ask and ye shall find. After a series of mystical moments, there it was. I stood silently before the headstone before calling my friend over — and much to my surprise, I was awash with feelings and sadness and relief. 21 years old. He hadn’t even yet lived and his parents had endured the most tragic of heartbreaks. We were a part of each other — our stories and our humanity. They were my history and it was divine to sit with them. I bet they were smiling knowing I was there and where their legacy has led.

November is the entrance to a time of inward review, healing, rest and nostalgia — a time to connect deeply to ourselves and each other — it is a beautiful gift. 

This is dedicated to my great uncle, Roger True Lane, my ancestors and callings — and this is dedicated to you and hopefully inspiring you to heed your own stirrings for exploration and connection. Take the road trip, write the letter, visit the friend, make the call, read the book, write the book, sit in stillness, listen, pray, be. Just keep tasting life…food, new flavors and making your own connections and discoveries. 

Life is good and abundant and sweet, dear ones. Savor it all.

And know how grateful I am for you, my precious community. I will give blessings and thanks for each and every one of you this year at my Thanksgiving table (and every night).

Happy Thanksgiving. Happy November. 

Roger True Lane (1922 – 1944)

Missing in action over Belgium December 24, 1944


Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Cafe Wodstock


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