“Silence is a beautiful thing,” Ann Bevins noted. “Sometimes people forget that quiet can change a person: it can make you somehow different.”
Ann and her husband Shawn first visited the Arboretum after they moved back to their native Schoharie County from several years in Connecticut. They were building their home and followed the signs to the Arboretum’s plant sale. Since that first sale nearly 20 years ago, both Ann and Shawn have been plant sale stalwarts, Ann as cashier and Shawn as parking attendant.
The quiet places at Landis appeal to her most. She recollected the stillness of one late spring snowstorm that blanketed the plant sale. Ann loves the serene majesty of the Arboretum’s 19th Century barn. “I sometimes stand inside and look at the beams – it’s a piece of art, the construction is a work of art,” she said.
“Places like the Arboretum are increasingly rare. Truly undervalued, underrated. If we don’t preserve them, they’re gone,” she said. “People don’t spend enough time outside, so it may be difficult for them to see the purpose [of the Arboretum]. There are fewer and fewer places with clean air, dark skies, no traffic noise. People forget that.”
Ann commented that, having grown up on a Middleburgh farm, both Schoharie County and plants are in her blood. Even the 30 acres of clay and rocks at her Esperance home haven’t deterred her from building a collection of daylilies and hostas.
Now that her two boys are out of the house and the days of heading the booster club and traveling the sports circuit are over, Ann is “practicing retirement.” She has time to read now, mostly the classics: Ann is now working her way through the Dickens novels. She credits her mother and an influential 6th grade teacher for her love of the introspective art of reading.
Although Ann is still working full-time for New York State as project manager in the Office of Information Services, she agreed to join the Landis Board of Trustees in 2015. She credited Anne Donnelly, former interim director, Jim Paley, the current Board president, and Wilma Jozwiak, the current vice-president, for having applied “quiet pressure.” She said, “It just seemed to be the next logical step.”
Ann confessed that she is by nature “still a country girl” and not accustomed to socializing but having, like most people she knows, “an altruistic streak.” Her volunteering at the Arboretum has led her a little out of her comfort zone – a good thing, she said. Volunteering is “something you need to do” for what you believe in. Besides, she said, “it’s fun.” It means meeting interesting people too: “Open spaces breed creative people.”
Ann spoke from experience: the quiet of the Arboretum has worked its subtle magic on her – and many others.