My Best Huckleberry Friend, David

David on the PathMy dearest Huckleberry Friend with whom I’ve wandered these Huckleberry lined trails with for almost twenty years, went Home on March 11th after a three month transition period. We had a Celebration of Life ceremony in the standing stone circle on April 18th. The snow melted just in time, and the ice on the quarry had finally let go of the far north shore.

An eagle flew east to west at the beginning and when the celebration was done, flew directly over my head west to east. That eagle has shown up a number of times since, especially when I need some bolstering up.

My husband, David was a poet, a gifted pianist, and a sculptor. He was a master gardener and a philosopher. What guests may not have noticed, as it was so seamlessly accomplished, is that Light Heart Retreat was not only David’s inspiration, it was his pallet.

David crafted trails and places to pause and be still and quiet in. He would get down on his hands and knees to clear the twigs and new growth away. When he was done it was if the remaining perfection had always been there. No…Mother Nature had a first rate foreman, here at Light Heart Retreat.

David was born under the sign of Scorpio, but he was not a lover of the water as I am. Still, for the early guests, David would get in the chilly water and take the last season’s leaves out of the area by the sauna and sweep the quarry bottom with a construction broom until it was sparkling clean. What was left was a beautiful, golden, granite- bottomed swimming pool. Thanks to David. Mother Nature always left a terrible mess there for him in the Spring.

David gave the same care to the vegetable gardens that he gave to special places in the woods, tilling every row by hand from down on his knees. These rows were interspersed with flowers that appeared to have just volunteered themselves. They didn’t. His Golden Glow tomatoes and salad greens he shared with guests grew from soil that was built up over time with trips to Lamoine Beach for seaweed and to various farms for manure. Even the compost piles were part of the pallet with potatoes growing out of one pile, little Patty-Pans and big ole Blue Hubbard rambling far beyond the boundaries of another pile.

David said, “If you want to find God, grow a garden. You can dig for Him there.”

And it may have seemed the piano music wafting from our house was at random. Well, it wasn’t. David put the windows all the way up and depending on his mood you heard a rip snortin’ Latin number or rag time, and once in a great while, something sweet and lilting. The compositions you heard came from David himself and some of it was only played just that once, and it was created for you.

Whatever David was doing to get ready for guests, he would say, “We’ve got to get ready. Christ is coming.”

David always wanted to give more, to give a gift to friends and guests when they left. He never realized the gift he was always giving of himself personally through all his creations. David has left us all much, so very much that can be seen and felt here. And this will continue to be so.

Our early logo was Let the mind rest in the heart. As I was admiring the sun setting over the tree tops one evening, it became so very clear to me that heaven was touching earth here, through the old growth pines. David loved these trees and did his best to show them off by giving them space. We changed our logo to Where heaven touches earth.

David, was a tall tree at 6 foot 6 inches tall and like his beloved big pine trees, he too brought heaven to earth. When you hug a tree at Light Heart Retreat now, you better be ready to get hugged back because David is still on the job as co-steward/spiritual director and I’ve been demoted to grounds crew. Mother Nature is mostly creating beauty and also a few messes for me to clean up. I’m the short one and it isn’t very easy to push a construction broom through chest high water.


  1. Joanna,
    There are no words that can describe our thoughts and feelings that would be any better stated than the ones you expressed above. We feel blessed to have met and spent time with David during our wonderful vacation centered around “Light Heart Retreat”. Our thoughts and prayers are heading your way. We hope it helps keep your “HEART LIGHT”. We know David’s presence will remain with you in your beautiful retreat.

    John, Barbara, Rudi and Angela

    1. Dear Friends,

      Thank you so much for your kind thoughts and words. I mostly do feel surprisingly light as the spiritual presence is so real and therefore, profound. I have thought of you four often and especially when another guest has discovered the joys of drinking their morning coffee from the stove top percolator. Wishing you all to have many good times together. Love and blessings for peace, freedom and joy, Joanna

  2. Joanna

    Or hearts are heavy but so full of love. My initial reaction to your email was to cry, but something stopped me and I was filled with joy, happiness and great love.

    We are so honored to have shared many wonderful memories at the retreat. My children often talk about their nature walks with David, his magnificent garden and teaching them about compost. We still have the compost samples that he mailed to Hannah for her middle school science project (four years ago) because she couldn’t part with a piece of the retreat.

    Of all the places we’ve visited, my children, now 16, 17 and 19, all agree that the Light Heat Retreat was their favorite. From the second you set foot there, you are filled with peace and love. Thank you for sharing yourselves and your slice of heaven with us. I’m sure David’s presence will be felt always.

    David sent Hannah a poem, with her compost, that we carry with us every day.

    I can change, it’s not too late
    I Am the master of my fate
    I Am a Giant, not an elf
    God helps those who help themselves

    Love and blessings
    Charlotte & Jason
    Jason, Hannah & Celena Granito

    1. Dear Charlotte, Jason, Hannah, & Celena,

      Thank you so much for being part of the very happy memories I have of David and myself sharing Light Heart Retreat with guests. It was good to hear David’s words about the elf again 🙂 Blessings for your unity and love,


  3. We would love to visit with you again someday Joanna.  You are in our prayers and our hearts  Blessings ~ Charlotte

    Sent via the Samsung Galaxy Note® 3, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

    1. Dear Charlotte, It would be sweet to see you and Jason again and see how the kids have grown up. I have been going around saying, “I am a giant and not an elf…” Love and blessings for peace, freedom and joy, Joanna

  4. Joanna, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. His Spirit will be with you for always. Love in Light – Kate Zamarchi

  5. Dear Joanna,
    We have 3 magnificent old growth pines on our 17 acres… only 3 – these grand ones that were somehow left to oversee the others when the rest of the land was logged. We cherished them before, and always thought of David and how he introduced us (by name) to his old friends at Light Heart. Now, we will clear around them consciously as David did, for a special place connecting heaven to earth that remembers him specially. One of the trees has two leaders and a curved, upreaching to the sky, flowing and musical look about it.

    We will not forget his beautiful piano music echoing over the quarry waters as we walked back from the stone circle after our wedding. We were surprised, and uplifted, and blessed.

    In our eyes, you are not demoted to grounds crew. The messes will get cleaned up…or they will take care of themselves in time. You are co-steward as always and David is with you. Light Heart will help you find the wisest ways to care for it.

    Our love and blessings,
    Misty & Aidan

  6. Dear Joanna,
    It is 5 months since the news of David’s transition. I have thought of you both often, but it was just today that I viewed your slideshow in honor of David, and your written thoughts about your Huckleberry friend. It makes me so extra grateful for the time I got to spend my last trip up to the retreat when Thay was present with you both. I’m only sorry I was unable to help David record his music before he transitioned.
    Mary and I send our love and wishes for the continuation of the beautiful retreat that you and David made possible for all to experience.
    Hoping to get up your way again one of these fine days to give you a hug in person, but for now, imagine our arms of love and friendship surrounding you — even as you read these words.
    (((((((( ))))))))

    In Divine Friendship, and with much Love,

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