A Tribute to Mary Oliver

It’s the first Monday of the first session at Camp Betsey Cox.  A sumptuous breakfast has been enjoyed by all.  Monday morning trivia has been asked and cabins have posited their answers.  It’s time for morning inspiration.  Starting the day with a thought of some sort is such a treat.  It may be a fun fact, a piece of good news from the sports world, something exciting in the world beyond camp boundaries, or an idea from a person we will be better for knowing.

So many first mornings have begun with a poem from Mary Oliver.  Mary Oliver passed on this past year after 83 years living a life that, by her own admission, was lived as close to the natural world as possible.  Like those of us gathered in the Betsey Cox lodge, Mary Oliver loved living as close to nature as she could.  She walked daily—near her seaside home in Provincetown, Mass., in the woods near Bennington, Vermont where she was a distinguished teacher in the later years of her life—wherever she lived she took inspiration from the world around her.


Mary Oliver’s poem WHY I WAKE EARLY has inspired generations of Betsey Cox community members.  It’s perfect for the first camp morning.  In fact, I would suggest that it’s perfect for most mornings.  For many of us, in what we call the “off” season, reading it again brings up memories of camp mornings and reminds us of how best to start each of our days.  Here, in celebration of Mary Oliver’s life, is the poem:




Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you who make the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and crotchety—


best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens

to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever darkness,

to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light—

good morning, good morning, good morning.


Watch, now, how I start the day

In happiness, in kindness.


We can all be so grateful that Mary Oliver’s wisdom is her legacy, accessible to each of us at the turn of a page.  On behalf of the entire Betsey Cox community, I salute Mary Oliver.  You will be with us frequently, Mary.

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