Farewell to our fair harbinger of summer, Laura Scribner

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Photo: Michèle Thibeau

Laura Scribner at work in her Quebec City summer digs in August 2010. 

It is with deep sadness that the friends of Laura Scribner learned of her death on May 27, 2015, peacefully, at home in Goshen, New York. She was 90.  

 Laura was well known to many in Quebec City. Her love of the language, culture and people spanned decades. This city held a special place in her heart.  

Laura and her late husband, Stanley Scribner, began their summer stays in Quebec City in 1979, coming for a few months every year for over a decade. After Stanley's death in 1991, Laura continued the tradition, spending her summers exploring the region's cultural offerings.  

She joined the Quebec Writers' Circle and was a regular at the library of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec and at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, among other places.   

 Laura Marquez Scribner was born in New York City to Catalina and Pedro Tomas de Marquez of Colombia. She grew up on the upper east side of Manhattan, and was fluent in her family's Spanish, English, and later in French.   

She and Stanley raised three children in New York City and in Middletown, N.Y. Laura brought energy and passion to her work in hospitals, created after-school French and Spanish programs, and was the librarian for the Middletown School System.  

 Later, Laura moved to an apartment in Goshen, N.Y., which she said reminded her of Old Quebec. There she was very active with local writing groups, and shared her passion through workshops and volunteering. 

 Laura's arrival was our harbinger of summer, when she spent time with members of the Quebec Writers' Circle. We gathered round the big table in the library or we crowded into her modest digs inside the walls of Old Quebec, and together we shared rhymes and stories, laughter and news.   

When not writing or taking in the view from her pignon sur rue, Laura spent time exploring the city and visiting friends on foot and by bus.

 She was a poet, writing about ordinary things in such a way as to make them seem extraordinary. Laura had a keen eye for detail and an ability to capture moments in time and set them on paper in her tidy handwriting.  

 Her letters and poems were published in many American newspapers and in the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph.  

Most years, Laura filled pages about her summer garden view, and about the flowers and spaces that delighted her. It was a pleasure to hear her read them each year. One poem in particular stands out as a proper reflection of Laura's annual séjour in our fair city, which she held so dear.

In her 2013 garden poem, A Summer Romance, Laura begins with a dialogue of sorts. "Stop. Don't help. I'll close the glass-paned patio door myself, / after I have crammed just one souvenir more / of my latest summer romance / into some hospitable pocket of my mind." She writes of picking several buttercups with shiny, waxed faces. From there, she lets the reader in on the secret, that her romance, something that might seem a little much for "a lady of a certain age" has never been sealed. "...You see, my beloved is a garden - the best that is. / Snow never covers tired old buttercups there, and for every rose / that must drop faded petals, a new blossom promptly grows." In the final verse, our poet reveals the key to romance. "My beloved knows no winter. At least none that I've ever seen / any winter go there. - Maybe because, by November, / I'm always back home, hundreds of miles from here." *

Laura was planning to come back to her beloved Quebec City this summer, but it was not to be. Laura, you will be missed.   

She leaves to mourn her daughter, Consuelo Sherba, her two sons, Bradford and Frederick Scribner, her sister, Mary Parris, her grandchildren, her great-grandson, her family, and many friends near and far. A service in celebration of her life will be held at the Scotchtown Presbyterian Church in Middletown, N.Y., on Friday, June 26, 2015.  

Copy editor's note: Laura's poem can be seen in its entirety in the online version of the paper, below.  


A Summer Romance

Stop. Don't help. I'll close the glass-paned patio door myself,

after I have crammed just one souvenir more

of my latest summer romance

into some hospitable pocket of my mind. Sleeves rolled up, soon I find

an unsophisticated, completely unpretentious rose,

as plump, as pink as it will ever get. Kept three young buttercups,

sun-soaked faces nicely waxed; very clean.

That's it. I'm ready now. But, look!

 

A few inches of wisteria attached to the brick wall on the left,

suddenly stretch out nosy, wandering tendrils. Attempt to follow me,

through a gap in the no longer efficient screen.

Quickly I make my way inside — safe, barely seen.

Unaccompanied, except for my loot.

Yet, what right have I, when all is said, to take samples

of another's pretty flowers, and file them inside my head?

Is it foolish to keep mementos of that which one can never forget?

— Wrong, for a lady of a certain age to borrow again and again,  

a few weeks of loving, merrily because the air tastes so sweet,

and the days linger long?

 

 

Oh, come on. Don't grin. The object of my affection never sealed our relationship with a kiss.

We have never lain in each other's arms.

Ours is not that kind of bliss.

You see, my beloved is a garden — the best that is.

Snow never covers tired old buttercups there, and for every rose

that must drop faded petals, a new blossom promptly grows.

My beloved knows no winter. At least none that I've ever seen

any winter go there. — Maybe because, by November,

I'm always back home, hundreds of miles from here.  

- Laura Scribner, August 2013