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Reflections of Coal Mine Ridge

Jane's Retreat by Beth Quinn

Beth Quinn.jpg

Beth Quinn

Photo taken in 1981

Beth Quinn (now Bethica) wrote these poems in 1981 when she was living in Portola Valley Ranch.  She had just finished fourth grade where she studied poetry with Robin Toews.  Inspired by Robin and by her surroundings, she wrote these poems while sitting in "Jane's Retreat", a spot once marked by a bench dedicated to Jane Ames set above Lower Toyon Trail.  (The bench has since been removed.)  Bethica now lives in San Francisco with her wife and two teen-aged daughters and is the director/head teacher at Centro Las Olas preschool.

Jane's Retreat



from the sunny new growth


to the somber old leaf


fills the valley


regal bays with

majestically sweeping trunks

stand on one side

jocund oaks with

crazily twisting limbs

jostle on the other



vibrant ferns

and fresh mint



every crevice of the valley

is bursting with green,


to show its spring colors


birds proclaim their presence

from hidden perches

in the living valley

singing from bay and oak alike


no flowers have yet opened

save one dainty white iris


to be the first


the valley

is as full of peace

as it is of green



stirs the upper branches only

of the great trees

they sway gently, lazily,

keeping time to the bird’s music.

straight bays

and twisted oaks

make a strong framework

to hold up the sky

protecting those below:

the ferns and mints whom they will never meet,

and the young trees who will someday

take over their task.

it is cool in the valley

and still – even the fragile light dancing flybys

can hold their own in the still air

the sun picks out a leaf here and there

in a green-gold bright, light without warmth

no intruder here

but one playful breeze

who has broken the barrier

of the upper leaves

to tease the lower ones.      

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