You see, the first time I met Mary Majka, I was a reedy and awkward seven year old, lying flat on my belly on front of the television, palms bracing my chin, skinny legs bent at the band aids and wobbling somewhere behind my head.
|Mary on a field trip with students (photo David Christie)|
I began bringing home stray dogs and cats, injured birds. Not that Mary created compassion in me - I think that was always there - but, through her program, she did show me that compassion expected action. She showed me that it was not wrong to give aid to the injured or to pick up bird feathers or to let a caterpillar crawl, inch by fuzzy inch, up my arm. She taught me that I had a responsibility to the creatures with whom I shared this earth.
|White-marked Tussock Moth (I believe)|
Mary remained in the forefront of the evolving environmental movement, most often in the news for her fervent and vocal defense of habitat or heritage or the wild creatures that share our world. The press loved her…her Polishness, her passion, her panache.
|Mary at our 1988 wedding|
Shortly thereafter, I returned to my roots in Albert County and for a time, my husband and I lived on Caledonia Mountain, a largely unsettled mountain near the Bay of Fundy coast. As I explored the forests and marshes surrounding the mountain, the enjoyment of the natural world that had been shuffled to the background during my teens and twenties reemerged. It wouldn't be until much later that I discovered that Caledonia had also been the location of Mary’s first home after moving to New Brunswick.
In the years that followed, our relationship deepened as we shared occasional afternoons in the home she restored at Mary’s Point, nearby. It was a pleasure to visit. Her home always had a menagerie of recovering creatures in residence...a purple gallinule, a pair of mourning doves, the occasional owls, squirrels, a beaver...an albino raven. Gradually, she offered the stories of her varied projects in wildlife rehabilitation, habitat protection and heritage preservation in tantalizing bits and pieces and I began to appreciate all that she had accomplished.
Mary had sparked a yearning in me, although I didn’t recognize it as such at the time. As I approached my 40s, I began tackling those feelings of discontent and initiated the changes in my life that led me into the writing career I now enjoy. I was finally giving voice to the real me, my inborn nature was rising to the surface. Little did I know that I was about to immerse myself in a life that was - at its essence - a vibrant example of that very thing.