The Maples of Mott Cottage

“They grew in the forest tall and fair,
Until man the destroyer came,
Felling their brothers for light and air,
And to nourish the household flame.

Musing a while on the hill, he stood,
Watching the day’s decline;
Why do I fell these lords of the wood,
Planted by Hand divine?

Sickly exotics from sunnier climes,
These natives can never replace;
Leaves softly murmuring like evening chimes,
It seems like a hallowed place.

A group of trees by this purling brook,
A cottage would shade and adorn,
Peace for a pilgrim in yon quiet nook,
Repose for the weary and worn.

Bared to the sun, cheered by the breeze,
Half a century of seasons have sped.
The maples now are grand old trees,
And the woodman who spared them is dead.

They catch the first gleam of morn’s early light,
See the shadows steal over the lake,
The sun’s parting rays linger at night,
Tinge with gold the wood and the brake.

Here may life close in quiet and ease.
Weary the path I have trod,
I can list to the murmur of the trees
And silently worship God.”

— An excerpt from a poem written by Susan Kellogg Lee, wife of Benoni Lee, in memory of Lydia P. Mott; originally published in the Skaneateles Democrat, December 7, 1865. In her last years, Mrs. Mott was confined to her cottage on West Lake Road, and Mrs. Lee would visit almost daily and read aloud to her, to help her pass the time. Mrs. Lee came to love the trees around the Mott cottage, and did not want to see them go.


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