Monday, September 7, 2009


On a clear blue Thursday morning, September 3, 2009, Bruce Parfitt died. A candle burned at the foot of his bed all that day and into the night, long after the full moon rose in Williston, in Johnson, in Oshkosh, in Davison, in the Arizona desert and in the place where you are.
We have been calling family and friends, taking care of details, ourselves and each other.

It seemed to take most of the day and night to set up a legacy website. Here you will find the details of Bruce's life and a place to leave your thoughts for Bruce's family and friends like you.
Like this blog the legacy site is a growing, changing, group effort.

I know that Bruce gave you all many gifts -- his time, talents, knowledge, handiwork and care.
This photo shows a few of the tangible gifts he left us -- the work of his hands: a kinnickinick beaded deerskin pouch, birch-bark container, sweet fern lampshade, hollowed pine and deer-hide drum and the workbench on which they rest.

Best wishes to all of you,

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Yesterday afternoon, Josh Springer left for Michigan heading up North Williston Road, disappearing into the curves held by white pine, sugar maple and paper birch. He took the U.S. route so his little PT Cruiser could deliver that case of Boyden Farm, Vermont wine without a hitch.

More to come. Lots more.

I'm working on it.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Alces alces success via Bruce

Yesterday I posted about heading for a "moose hunt" after completing the bathroom vanity project. Well, the photo to the right shows the result of that drive to somewhere between Eden and Belvidere, Vermont. I conducted the normal ritual that Bruce and I had: drive slowly along the road searching for a dark hump in the marsh or along the edge of Long Pond, turn around at 'three corners' and repeat over and over again until a moose was sighted or darkness fell to the valley floor. Never before on my many trips to this location did I have such a good look at moose, or, for so long! This cow and calf were munching for nearly 30 minutes while a small crowd of silent observers witnessed their grace and beauty while slurping underwater vegetation. Bruce would have been thrilled! While watching them I imagined what our conversation would have been and well, was a bit sad he was unable to come this time.

Today I drove Bruce's neighbor and long-time resident of Johnson to see Bruce. I had offered to drive here there (because she does not like driving in 'the city' any longer). I printed this same photo and left it on Bruce's small bedside table; he slept during our entire visit (he sleeps much of the time now).

Maggie and I had a discussion about life and death today on the long (ish) drive back to Johnson and also discussed teaching and learning. Later I thought about that discussion and thought about how much Bruce has taught me over the almost 7 years I have known him. He showed me my first Moose, showed me the beauty of Vermont, taught me to appreciate and care for nature, and accompanied me on countless birding trips where we saw many 'lifers' together. We traveled from all corners of Michigan to Ohio, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. We had great discussions, we ate lobster along the Atlantic coast, we canoed, we laughed, we debated politics (of which we agreed mostly on everything), we even had the great chance to publish a few things together and one forthcoming article. My next thought was of how could something like that friendship ever be repaid. Answer: It cannot. One should just pass these things along; hopefully I can have students and graduate students who I can pass the story of Bruce on to.

J.C. Springer

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Josh, while valiantly trying to find key documents, pay bills and handle finances, found this photo of Bruce and suggested I post it for you.

Dark hair! thought I when I first saw it. I do believe I took this in front of my place the very first time Bruce visited for Christmas. Liz Kohan can post the year they came -- when was that?

Pensive Norwegian.

Every day since Bruce went to the hospital and then hospice, I watch the changes. This week he has changed from eating chewable foods to soft foods to fasting and today, just taking a bit of liquids. 'From working hard to talk, to listening, to turning his attention inward.

Bruce has had just over one full year since his cancer diagnosis -- treatment, preparing, travel, visits, connecting with friends. He would say he's right on schedule -- the weather and landscape turned to autumn. The moon waxes toward full. ~CDorschner


I hate to put a new post in front of Josh's most excellent "vanity fare." (But I just spoke to him, and I do know he's got another good news post yet to come.)

However, yesterday, Bruce's brother, Arden, sent photos that beg to be shared with friends of Bruce.

One week ago today, the same day that Bruce moved into hospice care here in Williston, Bruce and Arden's mom, Joan Parfitt, moved into an "assisted living" residence near Arden and his family. Bruce and Arden made it possible for their mom to move there. Joan, who is 89, is undergoing chemotherapy as Bruce did for much of the past year.

You can see by these photos that Joan's new place is cozy and filled with stuff that makes her happy -- including photos of Bruce's land (on the wall) and the last photo I took of Bruce as he received the extraordinary wool quilt made by Joan and finished with the help of her good friends in Oshkosh.

Even those of you who don't know this incredible, strong and upbeat woman can't help but see the sparkle in her eyes and will recognize Bruce in her face.

Tonight when my spouse Steve Mease and I visited Bruce, the nurse said that she and Arden were going to try to arrange for Joan to talk to Bruce again this eve.

While Bruce may no longer be seeing this blog-gathering-place of his friends or reading your messages himself (I now read them to him). I know that Joan Parfitt would be mightily uplifted by your cards and letters saying you are a friend of Bruce.

Drop her a line, a favorite memory of Bruce or a wish for her, Arden, his wife Katie and their family:
Joan Parfitt
206 North Main Street
DeForest, Wisconsin 53532


Finally completed...and...a tradition

Today, after two days of planning and thinking about how best to install a vanity in Bruce's basement's complete! It was a tricky installation, cutting around pipes (you might be able to see some in the photo) and designing a new drain that would fit to the vintage 1950s design that couldn't be entirely removed. Although imperfect because it's a very old bathroom with slanted floors and extremely hard cement walls it would please Bruce, I'm sure; and NO leaks!
The vanity had been sitting askew, partially assembled since my last visit to Vermont back during my spring break in March. Bruce was unable to finish it because of lack of strength and pain while moving his shoulder. However, I was happy to finish it during my short stay in Vermont (I looked forward to working on projects like these; the tile in this photo was something Bruce and I completed during Christmas break 2008 and the nearby kitchen with Sommer Schons during summer 2008).

Tonight, as a celebration I'm going to continue a tradition Bruce and I had when I visited: Moose 'hunting' near Eden, VT. Although he and I have only seen two moose all these times I've visited "Mooseberry Camp" (about 14 times total now) we kept trying and I'll cross my fingers that a bull moose will grace me with his presence tonight.