“I love to go a-wandering Along the mountain track.” This song, The Happy Wanderer by Frank Weir, has repeatedly been playing in my mind this past week while creating ads for our online gift shop. Seeing photos of woodlands and moss-covered logs reminds me of a time that seems like yesterday. My grandmother, Rose Behnke, loved nothing more than to go out in the world to see and do as much as she could. Some of the best memories I have are when we would venture out to the FOREST behind their property to go a-wandering.
Rose Behnke’s Dream Home In Burtonsville, Maryland
My grandparents, Albert and Rose Behnke built their dream home in Burtonsville, Maryland, around 1965. What would become a labor of love turned the property into one of the most beautiful gardens in the area. Folks would come from all over to wander around their gardens. Wandering was the best way to see all the wonderful gardens that Albert and Rose created on their property. Rose was famous for adding many little plaques all over the gravel pathways with beautiful sayings. Her favorite was this poem which is now in my garden.
The Kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden,
Than anywhere else on earth.
Going A Wandering With My Grandmother
Located next to their property was the ‘Magical Forest,” as my grandmother would call it. We would get the dogs and take a walk —wandering as she would call it. Looking for treasures, as I would call it. The dogs would pull us in different directions, all the while Oma (German for Grandmother) would be laughing and singing. Oma would sing in German, French, and English and sometimes mix them all up together. Neither one of us could carry a tune. However, she taught me that it did not matter as long as it made us happy. We would always bring home bits of moss or twigs to put in her waterfall that they had built in their sunroom.
I never knew till I became an Oma just how important those times were for her and me—sharing an adventure while marching along the unmarked path. I was sure I would be lost forever. The FOREST was never-ending. Later I saw that it really was just a small patch of trees that have long since been removed for new homes. But what an adventure it was.
I still see Oma, with her white tennis hat and scarf flapping in the breeze. We did have so much fun out there together. I learned the art of storytelling from her. She could make up a fairy tail just by looking at a particular tree or rock. It is one thing I have always loved to do with my grandchildren. Tell a story from nothing. I hope I did it with my children when they were growing up. I seem to recall sitting in doctors’ offices, and when they start to fidget, I would tell them to look at the pictures on the wall. Mostly they were of landscapes. We would then weave a story about the people that might have walked across that meadow or stream.
Rose’s sense of adventure did not stop with hiking. She loved to travel all over the world. After she retired, she tried to visit as many countries as she could. I was lucky enough to go with her to Europe one Summer with my cousin Jeanne. That is a story for another time.
Happy Birthday Rose Behnke ~ Never Stop Wandering, Even In Heaven
Happy 112th Birthday, Rose Behnke; I know you are wandering along heaven’s garden path singing a joyful song. Below is a photograph of my grandmother at her 80th birthday party that the employees gave her at Behnke’s in Beltsville.