This Brownie’s viewfinder sees nothing but beauty

By Regina Villiers.  Originally published February 2, 1994 in The Suburban Life, added February 13, 2015.

Brownie Morgan built this bridge in his woods.

Brownie Morgan built this bridge in his woods.


You could draw comparison after comparison between Brownie Morgan and the poet Robert Frost.

Brownie has his own woods to stop by on a winter’s eve.  He has fences he can mend with his neighbor on a summer’s day, if he’s of a mind to.  And Brownie also writes poetry.

But Brownie isn’t known for his poetry writing.  He’s known as a former Madeira gift shop owner and metal smith who now lives on 3 ½ acres in rural Brown County.  He’s also known as a historian who writes down nostalgic accounts of life in Madeira in former days.

Though retired, Brownie is not one to sit and contemplate the horizon all day long.  He busies himself with pursuits.  He could best be described as a naturalist/artist/writer/historian, who grows wildflowers.

Brownie’s poetry would never have become known to me but for his wife, Helen, who secretly let the verse out of the notebook.

A couple of years ago, someone suggested to me that I should write a love story.

“What this world needs is a good love story to read,” she said.  “Not a romance novel – a love story.”

It seems to me that Brownie and Helen are the best love story I have ever read or seen.  They don’ live as one, or think as one.  Each has his and her own talents and interests.  But they live in devotion and enjoyment.  They are companions, and each is always foremost in the thoughts of the other.

When they first moved to Brown County, Helen wrote:  “Brownie now has time to cartoon and draw and write what he calls his ‘throwaway verse.’”

Since then, she occasionally sneaks one of his verses into their letters with the same pride as a young mother who passes on the red and purple crayoned notes of her firstborn.

Brownie’s poetry could be compared to Frost’s not only for its raw, rustic style, but also for its wry comments on life and the foibles of man.  Frost’s poetry teaches us not only of the beauty of life, but that we can endure life.  And sometimes we must.

Brownie tells us, by using humor and rhymed verse, that we can endure.  When they moved to the country, he wrote:

 “When the water in the cistern’s low,

  We can only choose one path,

  We can either water flowers,

  Or waste it on a bath.”

     He also wrote a poem, “C.D.s,” which tells about two older people who had always kept their money in the sugar bowl, and suddenly they had to learn about the intricacies of the financial world and how to read the Wall Street Journal.

Brownie’s best poetry is his unrhymed serious poetry which shows a man keenly fascinated with nature, who has the ability to think and to observe the world around him.

His latest, lovingly tucked into a letter by Helen, strikes a nerve after our recent blast of cold.

Wind Chill

Today is a bitter, cold January day,

And it’s snowing,

About an inch is already on the ground.

Gray skies get darker overhead,

The noise of the west wind is redundantly profound.

Hardly an ideal day for communing with nature.

I’m no Eskimo, I said.

Far better I stake my lot now entirely on survival instead.

So I quickened my stride and skipped less critical chores on my round.

With but scant attention to the emerging daffodils,

The blooms of the snowdrops and the winter aconite,

Each one a harbinger of spring,

Unprotected from such harsh elements,

Each such a fragile looking thing,

Yet still unblemished by their plight.

How could this be, I said.

By all calculations, under the same conditions,

Man would already be dead.

But, here I am now,

A few steps from home,

And all the birds are fed.


Frost might have been better able to describe a January’s day and a man’s thoughts as he trudged through the woods filling the birdfeeders, but Brownie Morgan’s words speak to me and paint the picture in my mind.

I call him poet.