Elopement Wedding

MA Rasmussen – The Santa Barbara Independent

MA Rasmussen died in September at the age of 87.

She lived a jam packed life – full of interests and adventures that spanned decades and locales. She was a dynamic and creative soul – and it seemed everything she turned her attention to was an outlet for her creativity.

Born in Yakima, WA, she eloped with her soon-to-be-husband to CA when she was 17 – and by the time she was 20, she had 3 children. Even though her children were all under the age of 3, she still managed to write poetry, go to night-school, and hang out with well known Beat-Poets. The poets Gael Turnbull, Cid Corman, and Basil Bunting she counted as friends.

When the family moved to a house a block from the ocean in Oxnard, she learned to scuba dive and surf the waves. She brought home so much abalone that her kids were sick of eating it; and once she came home with a swordfish. She became a single mother when she was 23.

Her move to Santa Barbara and her marriage to her second husband, Paul opened whole new worlds. She and Paul created gardens for vegetables and flowers and she became enamored with succulents. There was always at least one cat in the house, and often snakes, mice, hamsters, lizards – not to mention the various chickens in the yard who were named after opera characters- Tosca, Aida and Brunhilde.

Through the Adult Ed program – she took many many classes – made dulcimers, was a part of the Great Books courses for years, took language and guitar classes. She played recorders, krumhorn, guitar, dulcimer and took part in the Ancient Music Society concerts. She would often bring baked goodies with her – those ‘blondies’ and brownies were always a big hit.

One year, she knitted huge thick sweaters for everyone in the family; she beaded necklaces, painted renditions of microscopic plankton on a table top, fostered wounded raptors (red tailed, golden, sparrow hawks), delved into clay and threw pots, made platters and fired pieces at the pot-wars up on Camino Cielo in the early ’60s.

She and Paul were avid cyclists – and completed many a Century and Double Century rides – often on a tandem. With her three swimming buddies – she won many records for Masters Swim meets. Being in the pool wasn’t enough for her Piscean spirit – she loved kayaking around the harbor, and later, took up windsailing along East Beach. The High Sierras called to her, and every summer she took the family backpacking – until she and her sprained ankle were airlifted by helicopter from the High Sierra Trail. She never did like flying. She loved the outdoors – she seemed to know all the birds and flora and fauna and would exclaim excitedly “look look! A red tanager!!” Or “There! A ruby ​​throated hummingbird!!”

When one of her daughters got into Balkan Folkdancing in the late ’60s- MA embraced the music and the fancy footwork and became a regular on Thursday nights at Oak Park.

She and her folkdancing friends would hit the thrift stores after Sunday afternoon folkdancing at the beach.

And she loved poetry – reading, writing, teaching. As a poet, she published in many small presses and brought her skill and passion for poetry to children via the California Poets in the Schools program.

Her three children received so many gifts from their remarkable mother – and each of them, in turn, offered her gifts in their own ways. One gifted MA with her first Abyssinian cat, one gifted MA with grandchildren and one encouraged MA to pick up the pen and write poetry again.

MA was outspoken, irreverent and could be quite hilarious. She left a lasting impression on those who knew her – and she will be dearly missed.

And yet – in her own words – she is still among us:

When I came back

look for me under the trees

in the duff

popping up with spring

in mushroom nests

or scaling trees slowly

on lichen frosted trunks

year by year until I drape

pendant in my green and lacy shawl

When I came back

I will be found

in hummer’s nests

first in the rough

out parts, small twig and leaf

and later as soft fluff from tiny feathers

woven smooth to cradle spotted eggs

sure camouflage at forked branch end

and after that

I will march down

the canyon walls in all the golden splendor

of a million wild nasturtiums

as I escaped from civil gardens up above

I’ll bide my time, mark this season’s trail

with many wrinkled seeds

and next year come triumphant up the other side

into gardens once again

When I came back

A celebration of her life will be held in early March, 2023

contact Tere Carranza for details: terecaz108@gmail.com