Our Lady of Labels

This week our Lady of Labels, Lynn Tidman, threw in her pens and retired from Green Hope Farm. For two decades she wrote the vast majority of our Flower Essence labels. During these last few years writing the labels, she would often rub her sore thumbs at the end of the day and muse about how many labels she had written over the years. I was always a bit afraid to tell her because I thought it would scare her away. We are talking well over a million.

That is a lot of labels!

Lynn was the first person to come to work here at the farm so imagining a week without her is…well….impossible. In her first year here, Lynn filled every Flower Essence bottle from a pyrex cup at our kitchen sink while I sprinted around her packing boxes in the playroom and taking orders in the living room. The pantry became her personal kingdom as it was the storage place for all the Flower Essences she was bottling. When Jim returned home from work each night, it was hard for him to miss that thanks to Lynn there was less and less room for food and more and more bottles at the ready.

The children were tiny and the place bustled with the comings and goings of a lot of interesting and unusual visitors. Lynn loved it all. As an only child, she relished being in the middle of every bit of chaos. When it became clear that we needed to build the first of several additions to our farmhouse, she worried the kooky quality of her days at the farm would be lost. Once settled into our next headquarters, she realized the change of locale had not ruined the fun.

It wasn’t long before we realized that we needed one person to dedicate herself to the label writing. Lynn won by default as the expanding group of people at the farm all had terrible handwriting….. except for Lynn. And so by default, Lynn became our Lady of Labels. I have always loved her soft round letters. There has always been something comfortable and inviting about her handwriting for me. Today, as I pulled labels from our inventory in preparation for tomorrow’s bottling, it was the first time I knew there would be no more Lynn labels when we run out. It is hard to imagine.

As many of you know, Lynn grew up on Bermuda. Her childhood was magic, except perhaps for a teacher named Mrs Cuppleditch. Lynn lived on the water in a pink house that faced the city of Hamilton. She had her own little motorboat to tool around in with her dog and took a ferry to school each day. On land, her parents couldn’t keep her away from the tennis courts, and her love for racquet sports remains a constant to this day. Lunchtime ping pong has seen many a Sheehan and many a staffer crushed by Lynn.

In her twenties, Lynn moved to Vermont. She took to the climate better than most tropical transplants and made a home first in Stowe then in nearby Norwich . Her house in Norwich is one of my favorite houses on earth. Just like her handwriting, there is something wonderfully comfortable and inviting about the place. I know I seem to drone on a lot about houses that work, but so many don’t. When I find a home that feels happy, like the one in Maine I mentioned last month or like Lynn’s place, I feel happy too. I have loved my many visits to Lynn’s house ( Lynn if you are reading this post, call me and I will be right over to lounge on your couch and yes, I will bring the dogs).

I met Lynn twenty years ago when our then neighbor Malcolm Grobe was having a dinner party for a motley crew of folks he had married during his oft times unorthodox years as a minister. Malcolm was definitely a free spirit when it came to his wedding services and going to a wedding with Malcolm in charge was always an adventure. His props often included ponies and other farm animals. At Lynn and George’s wedding there had been a puppy and a teddy bear.

I was never quite sure why Malcolm had invited me and Jim to this particular party since we hadn’t been lucky enough to have him preside over our wedding, but I am awfully glad we he did. While Teddy ( who for many years to come would sit next to Lynn in the office putting Lynn’s labels on the bottles) cooked a feast for us, Malcolm asked me to give everyone at the party a tour of the Green Hope Farm gardens. Lynn asked a bizillion questions and then invited me over to ask a bizilion more. We never looked back! As perhaps the preppiest looking person on Earth, Lynn surprised me with her embrace of all things new age, and I think she surprised some of her old friends too. When she began to work with the Angels and Elementals in her own gardens, the results were stunning, and it wasn’t long before she was hauling me off to Bermuda to meet the Flowers and gardens of her island home.

Thus began many a trip in which we visited every last garden on this garden island and talked to just about every Flower we met. There was something about the trips that brought the teenager out in the two of us, and we had so much fun and laughed so hard on these Flower Essence missions. It was a wonderful joyful time.

When my business got busier and busier and it became harder for me to drop everything and go to Bermuda, I could count on Lynn to find and make wonderful Flower Essences. I would give her a list of what we needed, and she would always return with these Flower Essences but she would always bring new ones too. She had a real sense of what Flowers had a lot to offer, and it was always like Christmas when Lynn arrived back at the farm with new Essences.

Those were such different days when no one cared that we were hauling cases of full canning jars to and fro from Bermuda to the farm. A childhood friend of Lynn’s who worked in customs at the Bermuda airport would usher us through the line telling folks to make way for the potions. Hard to imagine isn’t it? Now I thank God for my greenhouse and all the Bermuda plants I collected over the years that bloom for me here!

Over the years Lynn remained a true friend through thick and thin (and no doubt will remain one!). When my family of origin drama blew up, Lynn was the most concerned adult in our lives and stepped into the fray to play the role of grandmother to our children at graduations and recitals and plays and concerts. She would pop on her pearls and meet us anywhere. Just this spring, she made sure to be the second person to buy Lizzy’s book ( Will insisted on being the first).

And of course there was her relationship with all the animals here! She is the Ava Gardner of the animal kingdom, and we remain in awe of her talents. I have never met a dog that didn’t fall for Lynn like a ton of bricks, and frankly when I go visit Lynn from here on out MayMay and Riley will be riding shotgun. MayMay in particular waits for Lynn at the door in the morning primed for a love scene that makes us all blush.

How grateful I am for all Lynn’s love. No matter what was going on in her life, she arrived here each week cheerful and generous, interested in each person’s life and full of a sense of the absurd as well as a passion for our work with Animals and Flowers.

Viva our Lady of Labels! Long Live Lynn!

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