My first plan for these videos was just to set a camera up by our wood stove where I usually like to sit in the evenings and play some songs as the kids go to sleep. Thank God Erica stepped in and made this series much more interesting. Here though, in the depth of a deep winter, a deep winter song seems best delivered in that quintessential place of shelter, the seat by the fire. We included a few images of the boys skating on a little pond Aya found and shoveled off.
Happy St. Lucy's Day! St. Lucy lived about 1700 years ago in what is now Italy. The stories are a little fuzzy after all those years, but my best understanding of her was that she was a teenager who stood up to a cruel authority who could not shake her of her stillness and bold speaking of truth. At one point the guy in charge threatened to sell her as a slave if she wouldn't comply, and she told him calmly that she couldn't be ashamed of that status if she was forced into it, that the shame would be on him. He then had soldiers try and carry her away (they couldn't move her, even when tying her to horses) and try to burn her (their matches wouldn't light) and then cut her with a sword (she stayed alive a while after her guts fell out and told everybody what was really going on.)
I'm not sure how her story became this Italian song –or this Swedish tradition of electing a young girl to be Sankta Lucia and wear candles on her head and bring saffron buns to everyone, but here's my best interpretation: In Italy I can see how this pure feminism would become a symbol of the beauty and power of the wind and water and the spirit of the place. And in Sweden, where it's awful dark and cold this time of year, I can imagine the innocence and boldness which is so well exemplified in teenage girls to be an important source of spiritual light and food. There's a girl kinda like this in my house, baking excellent things and speaking wisdom to her parents and friends.
Erica has collected images of many children wearing the crown of candles and fit them together. Thanks to Go Like the Wind School and St. Paul's Episcopal Church for allowing space for this.
I met with Joshua Davis this evening at his dad's house and we sang a few songs and decided to go out and sing this one by the river. It was about 10 degrees out so by the end of it we both gave up on manual dexterity. http://joshuadavismusic.com/
Bird Name Blues. Happy Thanksgiving. Here's a song recorded at Seeds and Spores farm. This turkey pen is a rigid hoop house that can be pulled around the field so that after a harvest the birds eat fresh organic produce and the land can get tilled up and the ground fertilized and then they chain it to a tractor and pull it 20 or so feet down to the next spot. They're working wonders out there. Their website is worth a visit: seedsandspores.com/
Here's a song from a few years ago, in the deep winter nights, when we lived in the house we all refer to as the "little cabin." It was a one room place we built when we moved out here. It was my first attempt at a building and built in a real hurry with about $5,000. It's in need of a new roof already because of a screwy design. It was a sweet home though and served us well for about five years.
Here's something I wrote this morning after my son knocked over a can of paint. Before I got angry at his carelessness, I saw how afraid of punishment he was. It wasn't much paint, and even if it was, it wasn't worth getting upset about. Accidents happen and there is usually nothing to do but clean up and move on. Still, as we were wiping the floor, I was trying to make some kind of reason for the incident.
Maybe he just needed a reminder that his parents love him no matter what. That was enough for me.
It made me think of careless things I have done that may well have been caused by my unchecked subconscious attempting to fathom the devotion of the people close to me. And it reminded me of a quote from the Course in Miracles that says something like, "Every attack is a cry for help."
So I wrote this because I thought this was a part of human nature that needs to be laughed at. Maybe it's not funny, but I have a weird sense of humor.
About six months ago, after seeing this inspiring speech I took up thinking about how can I do what I love as my job. Not just something I "love" to do, but the thing that I have life-sustaining passion for, a calling.
After weeks of quiet walking, reading, praying and writing I got three answers. One of which was to do what I am doing now, publishing a music video blog that would offer my favorite songs to people who don't get to hang around a fire as much as I do.
I titled this series of videos the Woodsmoke Series, because a fireside is the original music venue and maybe still the best. I dig a big fancy show, but even the grandest opera hall or rock stadium (or online video) is only worth anything if it conveys a simple communication of love. My thanks to Erica for delighting in shooting and producing most of these videos and to Nathan Meadows for lending us a nice camera.
Another from the Woodsmoke Series:
About a year after Erica and I met, we went on a year-long ramble across the country. We left with only $500 and an old beater Oldsmobile (which burned up in Utah) but we managed to find ways to get by that were often serendipitous and also often very humble. So humble that when we landed a job on a fish-processing ship that sailed out of Seattle we could really appreciate the little bed and a hot meal served every six hours.
Some of the people I met on that boat talked about life on land as hectic and stressful, a place of bills, ex-wives, and other fears left unmentioned. I didn't understand at the time, but some years later I was riding my bike along Lake Superior between Marquette and Harvey on one of those dark blue, windy fall days. I was heavy with responsibility and doubt and just being in the presence of the waves seemed to simplify things. I thought of those guys out on the Bering Sea and started singing this song.
Just a little melody for lonely people, from the side of the creek yesterday..
More fun from Oregon. This cave is about 15 minutes drive from my sister's house. This bit of music is a baritone solo from a setting of the Requiem mass by Gabriel Fauré.