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January 2001 Musings:

Glaciers and Crowbars and Other Pleasures of the Season

A deep current of happiness has run through the days of this month. I have been happy beyond reason. But then, I suppose feelings are never subject to the whims of circumstance. Good thing, this.

There is always more to do than I can manage in a timely manner. Even so, I've watched myself move through a formidable list. It's been a nicely balanced month of home time and touring, time with my children and with friends, and time in sweet solitude. The month has brought performances for both children and adults, and a comfortable balance of creative work and creating of order in my surroundings. And enough snowshoe forays into the woods, shoveling of snow, and carrying of wood for the wood stove to keep my body feeling strong and well. Two nights ago, after a couple of days of a very late January thaw, the snow and ice on my roof let go in a roar that sounded like a freight train thundering across my very doorstep. The next morning a friend arrived and asked me why I had parked my car in a snowbank. Going outside, I found the front end of my car encased in snow, and underneath the car, behind the front wheels, a veritable glacier of ice that had skidded there in the force of the crash. I attacked it with a crowbar—I knew that thing I'd found in the woodshed would come in handy someday. What an adventure breaking the glacier into movable pieces and levering it out from underneath the car. By the looks of it I'd thought I wouldn't be able to go anywhere until April!

Both at home and on the road, I have made time for writing and for music. I enjoyed a song circle in Rochester after a Golden Link house concert. I finally made it—after being on the road every 1st Wednesday for months—to the wild and wonderful old-time jam at the People's Pint in Greenfield, Massachusetts. On the road in Virginia, I set two more Jane Yolen poems to music, one I have long loved, called "Bouquet," from Jane's Three Bears Rhyme Book, in a delicate banjo setting. The other, the rambunctious "Dinosaur Waltz," from Dinosaur Dances—source of two of the songs on my North of Mars children's CD. And I have been gathering to myself traditional songs I have loved all my life, working out guitar or banjo arrangements for them, and delighting in singing them. After some research, I finally found words for one of my favorite banjo tunes, "Kitchen Girl," on a Carol Noonan CD. Carol's version sounds completely different from the tune I'd learned from Carolyn Hooks—so I'm having a great time combining the two versions into one song. Wonderful and satisfying fun, all of this.

The project of the moment, which is very dear to my heart, came from the many post-concert requests I have received for copies of my poems. Finally, at the urging of Frank Allen Philpot—who hosts a wonderful house concert series in Bethesda, Maryland, where I played in December—I decided to publish a small chapbook of some of my favorites. It represents a cycle of Ashfield seasons, and will be called Moon of Ripe Berries. After seeing 9 recordings through the recording, mixing, mastering, and manufacturing stages, and participating in several other musicians' CD projects over the years, it is fascinating to delve into this world of the written word. It is a whole new adventure, and I am loving it. We are entering into the final stages of preparation for printing, and I will keep you posted on progress!

Enjoy the winter!

Warmly, Lui