Posts Tagged ‘Boo Hewerdine & Darden Smith’

All At One Time

June 24, 2020

Sometime way back (likely about ten years ago, but I’m not going to go dig), I wrote that one of the benefits of the digital age was getting away from the album format and being able to structure a playlist of separate tracks.

Back in the LP days, if there was a horrendous track right in the middle of Side One of a generally great album (friends of mine in those days might have nominated “Octopus’ Garden” on Abbey Road), one had to either endure the track or go to the turntable and actually lift the tone arm to set it down at the start of the next track.

As I explored that idea back then, I wrote something (maybe) about being freed from vinyl tyranny.

About six months ago, as I puttered here in my corner of our downstairs room. I thought, “Y’know, it might be nice to listen to Abbey Road all in order.” (Or it might have been Blood On The Tracks or maybe A Question Of Balance.) I had two ways to do that. There’s a large CD player on the other side of my desk, but I’d have to pull the CD from its spot in the stacks and walk around the desk and the keyboard.

Or I could have the search function in the RealPlayer find the tracks that made up the album and place them in running order and then listen.

And then I wondered: Does my new CD ripper allows me to rip an entire CD into one mp3? For years, I’d used a freeware program that allowed me to do that. I’d not done entire albums but I’d done large mp3s of suites, like the medleys on Side Two of (again) Abbey Road. And maybe five years ago, when I got a new computer, that freeware program and Windows 10 didn’t like each other. So for a few years, I used RealPlayer to rip mp3s, and as much as I like most of what that program does, its ripping function is clunky and slow.

But about eighteen months ago – six months before this inner conversation took place – I’d invested in a new suite of mp3 management tools, including an mp3 ripper. I’d not dug into it very much, as I was still trying to catch up on replacing the single mp3 rips lost in my external drive crash the autumn before we moved. Maybe it had a function to rip whole CDs as one mp3.

Well, as readers might expect (or there would be no point to telling the story), it does, and at odd times over the last six months, I’ve been doing just that.

There are currently eighty-seven tracks tagged “Full Album” on the digital shelves. The selection is heavy with the Moody Blues (part of the long-delayed project here reviewing all of their albums), Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. None of that is a surprise, I’m certain. Those are my mainstays, along with the Beatles, who will soon have many more albums in the section than they do now.

What I find more interesting are some of the other artists whose works have come to mind and wound up in the “Full Albums” section: Three Counting Crows albums from the 1990s; two from 1969 and 1970 by Brewer & Shipley; Jim Croce’s three major label releases from the early 1970s; three by Dan Fogelberg from the 1970s (one of those with flautist Tim Weisberg); two from the 1970s British folkie Shelagh McDonald; Dusty Springfield’s Dusty In Memphis; Steve Winwood’s Arc Of A Diver; and David Gray’s 200 album Babylon, just to mention a few.

I let the albums play on random as I read news or putter or play tabletop baseball. I don’t always listen purposefully, but I hear the music roll by (just like it used to in the rec room back home on Kilian Boulevard), and I’m learning some things: I don’t really like Roxy Music’s Avalon beyond “More Than This” and the title track. The Fogelbergs wear thin after a few listens. August And Everything After by Counting Crows is a far better album than I recall. So, too, is The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby & The Range. And Steely Dan’s Aja remains a sonic masterpiece.

It’s a long-range project, adding three or four a week. Where will it end? I dunno. Right now, I still have more than two terabytes free on the external hard drive. Will I get rid of the CDs and LPs if I get them all ripped as albums? Hell, no.

Here’s a full album from 1989 I posted at YouTube almost three years ago that will soon be in the “Full Album” folder on the digital shelves: Evidence by Boo Hewerdine and Darden Smith, one of my favorite obscurities.

Saturday Single No. 367

November 23, 2013

It is still technically autumn. Winter does not officially arrive for another four weeks or so.

There is no snow on the ground. There were, however, snowflakes in the air as I ran errands the other day.

Outside our dining room window this morning, the trees in the yard look crisply etched against the sky. It looks cold. And it is: six degrees Fahrenheit.

In my head, I hear Darden Smith and Boo Hewerdine: “There’s a cold wind blowin’ that’s got me knowin’ the first frost is headed this way.”

This is not the first time the temperature has dropped below thirty-two degrees. It’s been in the twenties now and then in the past few weeks, including yesterday.

But when I awoke around five this morning, I saw frost on one of the upstairs windows for the first time this season, and from the dining room window this morning, the cold and dry air makes the trees in the yard look as if they have sharp edges. Those things tell me this morning that we’ve turned a corner, as we do every year around this time.

So as we turn that corner into the cold wind, here are Smith and Hewerdine with a track I’ve shared here before (and likely will share again). “The First Chill Of Winter” from their 1989 album Evidence is today’s Saturday Single.

Of Heartsfield & Sneezes

June 27, 2011

Originally posted May 12, 2008

Last November, I posted a Saturday Single from The Wonder Of It All, a 1974 album by a Midwest band called Heartsfield, a group I’d run across more or less by accident. (I have a sneaking suspicion that we find most of the musicians and groups we listen in that way: pure happenstance.) And I received a few notes from fans of the group, some of them offering assistance in helping me find the rest of Heartsfield’s oeuvre.

I took one of those readers up on that offer this weekend. Mark of St. Louis posted links for me of Heartsfield from 1973, Foolish Pleasures from 1975 and Rescue the Dog, a 2005 album by a band newly organized by one of Heartsfield’s co-founders. (Thanks much, Mark!) That brings me close to a complete Heartsfield collection. A 1977 album, Heartsfield Collectors Item, appears to be an album of new material rather than the compilation the title might imply.

Normally, on Monday, I’d post an album or some kind of themed collection as a Baker’s Dozen. But the pollen has attacked – I read in the Twin Cities newspaper last week that this is the worst year for spring allergies in some time. Well, I already knew that. And I spent much of the weekend wheezing and sniffling and not putting much time at all into thinking about what I would offer this morning. I have some interesting albums in the stack of things to rip, and I will get to one or two of them this week, as well as offer the rest of the week’s regular features.

For now, however, I’m going to let the universe do my work for me this morning. We’ll start with a song from one of the Heartsfield albums Mark provided for me, and from there, we’ll take a fifteen-song walk through the 1950-1999 junkyard.

A Walk Through The Junkyard
“I’m Coming Home” by Heartsfield from Heartsfield, 1973

“Kaval Sviri (The Flute Plays)” by Ensemble Trakia from Mystère Des Voix Bulgares, Vol. 2, recorded at Plodiv, Bulgaria, 1982

“Naturally” by Fat Mattress from Fat Mattress 2, 1970

“By Today” by Batdorf & Rodney from Batdorf & Rodney, 1972

“Redneck Rhythm and Blues” by Brooks & Dunn from Borderline, 1996

“Abraham, Martin & John” by Boo Hewerdine & Darden Smith from Interchords radio show, live, 1991.

“Pacific Coast Highway” by the Mamas & the Papas from People Like Us, 1971

“I’m A Woman” by Maria Muldaur from Waitress In A Donut Shop, 1974

“Ain’t It Hell Up In Harlem” by Edwin Starr from Hell Up In Harlem soundtrack, 1974

“Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat & Tears from Blood, Sweat & Tears, 1969

“Changes” by Gordon Lightfoot from Lightfoot!, 1966

“I Still Miss Someone (Blue Eyes)” by Stevie Nicks from The Other Side of the Mirror, 1989

“Back Stabbers” by the O’Jays, Philadelphia International single 3517, 1972

“The Moon Struck One” by The Band from Cahoots, 1971

“Lullaby” by Wishbone Ash from Pilgrimage, 1971

A few notes:

Visitors sometimes snort when I tell them I listen at times to Bulgarian choral music. But should one of the tracks pop up from one of the several such albums I have ripped to mp3s, well, my visitors’ eyes widen and their mouths open as they hear the odd intervals and impossibly close harmonies. The sound is alien to Western ears, and I don’t listen to a lot of it at one time, but it never hurts to know what other places sound like, and the musicianship on all of the Mystère Des Voix Bulgares albums – and on the Nonesuch label albums that preceded them – is impeccable.

Fat Mattress is where Noel Redding went in the late 1960s after his time as bassist with the Jimi Hendrix Experience was over. The group’s music was different from that of the Experience: far more based on the British folk-rock tradition and the psychedelic and progressive rock sounds that stemmed from that tradition. The two albums the group did are well worth hearing, if those sounds intrigue you. The group’s second album – from which “Naturally” comes – was slightly inferior to the first album, says All-Music Guide, but from a distance of more than thirty-five years, the differences don’t seem that significant.

John Batdorf and Mark Rodney made three albums in the early 1970s in a singer-songwriter/soft rock vein. The albums are pleasant but not very consequential. One of the joys of having a 500-gig external hard drive is that there is room to keep bits and pieces of pleasant marginalia if one so desires. The duo is similar to, but not quite as good as, Seals & Crofts.

The Boo Hewerdine/Darden Smith performance of Dick Holler’s wondrous “Abraham, Martin & John” is, to me, a highlight of both singers’ careers. The Interchords appearance had Hewerdine interviewing Smith along with performances by both. I’d love to hear the entire show. And I’d love to know who Stephen (Steven?) was. Listen to the song, and you’ll know what I mean.

The Mamas & the Papas, who had broken up in 1968, reunited in 1971 to record the album, People Like Us, simply to fulfill a contractual obligation. The album is better than one might expect of such an effort, but the group’s time had passed and the product sounded out of date and went nowhere.

Wishbone Ash is one of those bands I knew about in my youth but never listened to (given the vast number of groups at the time and since then, there are many such, I am certain). I ran across a track by Wishbone Ash at The College Crowd Digs Me about seven months ago and since then have slowly been taking in the group’s body of work. “Lullaby,” along with the album it comes from, is far more mellow than the sounds I’d expected when I began digging into the group’s work.

Edited slightly during reposting June 27, 2011.

A Baker’s Dozen Of Moons

June 12, 2011

Originally posted February 20, 2008

I must have been about seven, which would put it sometime during the winter of 1960-61, when my dad showed me the darkened and red moon.

I’d been in bed a few hours, I imagine, with bedtime for a seven-year-old being about eight o’clock back then. But Dad woke me and had me look to the south, out the bathroom window. Floating above the trees, there rode the Moon, looking larger than usual, its normally pale white face colored a dusky red.

“It’s a total eclipse of the moon,” he told me. “The Earth comes between the Sun and the moon, and we can see the Earth’s shadow on the moon.” We looked for a while. I asked why the moon was red. He said he thought it had to do with the atmosphere, with the weather. (He was right.)

We looked at the moon for a little while longer and then went back to bed. It’s been nearly fifty years since Dad showed me the red moon. I imagine other total eclipses have come and gone, maybe many times, since then. There’s another one tonight, visible in most of North America. Starting at 7:43 Central Time, the Earth’s shadow will fall across the Moon. From 9:01 to 9:51, according to NASA, the eclipse will be total.

I hope lots of dads show their kids the darkened moon tonight.

A Baker’s Dozen of Moons
“Under the Darkest Moon” by Boo Hewerdine and Darden Smith from Evidence, 1989

“Moon River” by Henry Mancini from the soundtrack to Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961

“Neon Moon” by Brooks & Dunn from Brand New Man, 1991

“Love on the Moon” by the Sutherland Brothers & Quiver from Reach For The Sky, 1975

“Moonlight Feels Right” by Starbuck, Private Stock single 45,036, 1976

“Blue Moon” by Elvis Presley , RCA single 47-6640, 1956

“All Around The Sun And Moon” by Joy of Cooking from Castles, 1972

“Copper Kettle (Pale Moonlight)” by Bob Dylan from Self Portrait, 1970

“Blue Moon of Kentucky” by Levon Helm, from Coal Miner’s Daughter soundtrack, 1980

“Desert Moon” by Dennis DeYoung, A&M single 2666, 1984

“Yellow Moon” by the Neville Brothers from Yellow Moon, 1989

“Underneath the Harlem Moon” by Randy Newman from 12 Songs, 1970

“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fantasy single 622, 1969

A few notes:

“Under the Darkest Moon” comes from one of my favorite albums, one I shared here a while back. When I found it, I began to follow the solo careers of the two artists. In the past few years, though, I’ve pretty much quit following Hewerdine while continuing to track Smith, whose music continues to inhabit the intersection of rock, country and folk. (He’s issued nothing since 2005’s Field of Crows, so I’m waiting patiently.) Why did I quit following Hewerdine? His melodies are artful, sometimes beautiful, and his words are often eloquent, but, to me, the more I listened, there was a lightness in his work that was unrelieved; they needed a little more weight.

When I was working at the newspaper in Eden Prairie in the early 1990s, one of my colleagues, an ad man, was a country music fan, though he liked oldies as well. On his recommendation, I ordered through my music club one of Brooks & Dunn’s albums. I listened to it a couple of times, shrugged, and passed it on to Alan. Since the Texas Gal came into my life eight years ago this month, I’ve listened more to country music than I ever had before, and Brooks & Dunn are quite likely my favorite country performers. (Whenever they pop up on the RealPlayer, the little message box tells me that the only recording duo that has sold more records than Brooks & Dunn is Simon & Garfunkel. If that’s true, and I have no reason to doubt it, that’s an astounding fact.)

For most of the summer of 1976, the Starbuck tune was as inescapable as it is catchy. It spent fourteen weeks in the Top 40, beginning in mid-May, going as high as No. 3. It has to be one of the few Top 40 hits with a marimba solo. (I think it’s a marimba.)

When it was released in 1970, Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait was greeted with confused stares and derision. Among other things, critic Greil Marcus wrote, “I once said I’d buy an album of Dylan breathing hard. But I’d never said I’d buy an album of Dylan breathing softly.” “Copper Kettle (Pale Moonlight)” has been one of the few tracks that, over the years, has been given some respect. Wikipedia reports that it was written by “Alfred Frank Beddoe (who was ‘discovered’ by Pete Seeger after applying for work at People’s Songs, Inc. in 1946).” (Exactly who was doing the applying there is unclear, but never mind.) To me, “Copper Kettle (Pale Moonlight)” is not just the best track on the album, but one of Dylan’s best tracks ever.

I was never a Styx fan, but I found I enjoyed 1984’s Desert Moon, the first solo album by the band’s keyboard player and vocalist, Dennis DeYoung. Part of that was no doubt familiarity with the title track, as the song’s video was in heavy rotation on MTV that year, the first year I had cable. It’s still a nice song, but it sounds a little bit slight after twenty-four years.

A Baker’s Dozen Of Winter

May 25, 2011

Originally posted December 5, 2007

Through the window, I hear the skrik-skrik of someone scraping ice from a vehicle in the parking lot. We got another six inches of snow yesterday afternoon (on top of the six or so inches from Saturday), and it came in the afternoon, causing havoc during what passes for rush hour here in St. Cloud.

It looks like this winter is going to be a tougher one than the past few have been. At least, it’s starting out that way, with two six-inch snowfalls in four days and another storm heading our direction for tomorrow. The past few years haven’t seen much snow at all, and it’s generally come later in the season. And some of those winters have seemed to bring fewer days of sub-zero cold, the kind of cold that makes snow squeak under your feet and makes your cheeks burn.

Were winters colder when I was a kid? I don’t know. I remember walking in some pretty cold weather during my elementary school days. For the seven years I went to Lincoln School (kindergarten through sixth grade), I walked the five blocks from Kilian Boulevard to the school almost every day. On those winter days when the wind came from the north or northwest, we’d turn around and back our way to school, whole clusters of kids walking in reverse along Fifth Avenue Southeast.

(One very clear recollection that points out how times have changed is that the girls were still required to wear skirts or dresses in school. They could wear slacks under their dresses or skirts when they walked to school, but those slacks had to come off once they got inside.)

On very frigid days, those snow-squeaking days when the temperature was at twenty below zero or colder (that’s about twenty-nine degrees below zero Celsius), my mom or dad would drive us – my sister was three years ahead of me – the five blocks to school, often picking up classmates of ours along the way. And on occasion during my first few years of elementary school, I’d get a ride to school from Ed, the college fellow who lived in the next block and was the quarterback for the St. Cloud State Huskies football team.

Do kids still walk to school in any season? I don’t know. I do have a sense that kids no longer do as much outdoors as we used to do. Forty years ago, there were two city-maintained outdoor skating rinks within walking distance of our house: one right across the highway from Lincoln School (with a walking bridge over the highway providing easy access), and another about six blocks south of us on Kilian Boulevard. I was never a very good skater, but I spent my time with Rick and the other neighborhood kids scuffling around the two rinks. And on occasion, we’d go downtown where the city maintained a skating surface on Lake George.

And once every couple of weeks, we’d grab our saucer sleds and head down to the big hill in Riverside Park for a weekend afternoon of sliding, coming home cold and wet, tired and happy.

The rink on Kilian is long gone now, its location having become part of a permanent rose garden. I don’t think there’s a rink near Lincoln anymore. The open area that was flooded each winter is still there, but the warming house is long gone. And the old warming house on Lake George came down years ago, too. I suppose kids who want to skate do so in the ice arenas that were built during the years I was gone.

I would imagine, though, that kids still slide down the hill in Riverside Park. I hope so. And this year, it looks as if there will be plenty of snow for them.

A Baker’s Dozen of Winter

“The First Chill of Winter” by Boo Hewerdine & Darden Smith from Evidence, 1989

“Winterlude” by Bob Dylan from New Morning, 1970

“A Hazy Shade of Winter” by Simon & Garfunkel from Bookends, 1968

“Song of Winter” by Françoise Hardy from One Nine Seven Zero, 1970

“Winterlong” by Neil Young, unreleased, 1974

“Wintery Feeling” by Jesse Winchester from A Touch On The Rainy Side, 1978

“The Coldest Winter in Memory” by Al Stewart from Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time, 1996

“In The Winter” by Janis Ian from Between the Lines, 1975

“Song For A Winter’s Night” by Gordon Lightfoot from The Way I Feel, 1967

“The Winter is Cold” by Wendy & Bonnie from Genesis, 1969

“Lion in Winter” by the Bee Gees from Trafalgar, 1971

“Winter Winds’ by Fotheringay from Fotheringay, 1970

“Sometimes In Winter” by Blood, Sweat & Tears from Blood, Sweat & Tears, 1969

A few notes on some of the songs and artists:

I’ve posted the Hewerdine and Smith album Evidence here before, but I could not resist starting this list with “The First Chill of Winter,” which is one of my favorite songs.

The album One Nine Seven Zero, the source of French chanteuse Françoise Hardy’s “Song of Winter,” was originally released in 1969 in South Africa under the title of English 3. A year later, it was released in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand as One Nine Seven Zero. In the U.S. and Canada, the album’s title was Alone. I don’t think there’s any difference between the albums, but the source I had for the album called it One Nine Seven Zero, so that’s what I’ve called it.

The Neil Young track, “Winterlong” was included on Decade, his 1977 retrospective. The only other place the song shows up officially is on the 2006 release, Live at the Fillmore East, which documents a 1970 performance by Young with Crazy Horse.

Gordon Lightfoot’s “Song For A Winter Night” may be more familiar in a version by Sarah McLachlan. Her nicely done cover of the song was released on the soundtrack of a 1994 remake of the Christmas film, Miracle on 34th Street, although the recording was not used in the film.

“The Winter Is Cold” comes from one of the more remarkable one-shot recordings of the 1960s. Genesis came from San Francisco-based sisters, Wendy and Bonnie Flowers, who were seventeen and thirteen, respectively, at the time. It was released on the Skye label, which folded soon after the record came out, dooming any chances for the record to gain any attention. “The Winter Is Cold” is one of the lesser tracks on the album, I think, but the album – re-released on the Sundazed label in 2001 with bonus tracks – is worth finding.

An Anglo-American Effort

April 25, 2011

Originally posted July 4, 2007

I’ve tried for the past few days to come up with something utterly suitable for sharing on Independence Day. I mentally sorted through album titles and group names, trying to find something that fits the tenor of the holiday. It’s been tougher than I thought it would be.

I pondered Paul Revere & The Raiders, but I came to the conclusion that I didn’t have anything all that interesting by the group to share. I’ve got a greatest hits album on vinyl that’s likely in pretty good shape – I got it new sometime in the late 1960s and haven’t played it that often, as PR&R never really grabbed me that much. I guess I should look more closely to see if there’s anything on the record that’s noteworthy, but not today.

In the spirit of this evening’s anticipated activities, I thought about José Feliciano’s 1970 album Fireworks, and I was surprised to realize that I don’t own it. I recall my pal Rick having a copy back around the time the record came out, and I had thought it was in the stack of records he gave me in November of 1974, when I was housebound after an auto accident. The stack included albums by Quincy Jones; Blood, Sweat & Tears; the Association; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; and two by the Bee Gees. But no Feliciano.

The process of digging for the two records – the one by PR&R that I do have and the one by Feliciano that I don’t – led me to ponder the lists I consult when I think about music. I have a log of the LPs – the count is currently about 2,950, a few of which the Texas Gal contributed to the collection when we merged households. I have a log of our CD’s, which right now number about 660.

And I have a list that I put together about fifteen years ago of LPs I want to buy. That list runs about thirty pages, with many of the entries lined through with a notation of “CD,” meaning I no longer seek the vinyl as I have the CD.

Nor am I as driven to find records on the list as I once was. Part of that, I am sure, is that I no longer live within a mile of Cheapo’s, the massive music store on Lake Street in south Minneapolis. It used to be a Best Buy store, and the large basement is devoted to more vinyl than I’ve seen anywhere else in the past fifteen years. When I lived nearby, the vinyl was located in the back third of the main floor, and due to my thrice-weekly (at least) visits, I had as good a knowledge of the vinyl inventory as any of the clerks. That ended once I moved out of the neighborhood and I got there maybe once every month. Now that we live in St. Cloud, I get there maybe once a year.

And for that reason – and probably because of the ease of buying things online and the convenience of buying re-releases on CD instead of the original vinyl – I don’t look at the “want list” all that often.

I do recall the nights I spent putting it together. I surrounded myself with reference books as I sat at my old Macintosh – I’d gotten it used at a garage sale – trying to decide from numerous reviews which LPs were worth seeking out. I look at the list now, and my tastes have altered enough in the past fifteen years that I shake my head at some of the entries.

And then there was the first time I was able to delete an album from the list after purchasing it. It was a Monday in December 1998, two days after the Great Blues Bonanza. I’d been making my way idly through the country albums at Cheapo’s when I came across an LP with very odd artwork: a very realistic painting of a buffalo skull with a human heart painted on it, mounted atop what looked like a marble pillar. It took me aback. Then I saw the printing across the top of the jacket: “Boo Hewerdine and Darden Smith: Evidence.”

That jogged my memory. I’d read about the record in the Rolling Stone Album Guide, which gave it four out of five stars. So I bought it. It turned out to be marvelous, a blending of country, pop, folk and rock that the two singers recorded almost as an afterthought in 1989, with twelve of the thirteen tracks recorded in Austin, Texas, and the last recorded in London. Not only is the album utterly enjoyable for its songwriting, production and performances, but it also was my introduction to the two musicians, both of whom remain among my favorites today.

(I admit leaning more these days toward Smith than to Hewerdine, whose career began with the British group The Bible. I find more satisfaction in Smith’s blend of country, rock and folk than I do in Hewerdine’s melancholy pop. But both are fine musicians, and the world could do much worse than to pay more attention to the two of them.)

So, as I could not find anything today in the collection that represented as well as I would like the separation from Great Britain that we celebrate on Independence Day, I thought I would share an album that stands as an example of Anglo-American cooperation: Evidence by Boo Hewerdine and Darden Smith.

Track listing:
All I Want (Is Everything)
Under The Darkest Moon
Reminds Me (A Little Of You)
South by South-West
These Chains
The First Chill of Winter
Out of This World
Love is a Strange Hotel
Oil on the Water
Tell Me Why
Who, What, Where and Why?
A Town Called Blue

Boo Hewerdine & Darden Smith – Evidence [1989]

Saturday Single No. 211

November 13, 2010

If one is to believe the forecasts, there will be, by the end of today, between five to eight inches of snow on the ground here on the East Side.

I have no reason to disbelieve. The weather pundits have been unanimous the past few days in telling us that the first major storm of the cold season was forming and would spend from Friday evening through Sunday rotating over Minnesota, Wisconsin and northern Michigan. Being restless last evening, I stayed up late, puttering with mp3s and reading, and by three a.m., when I finally retired, I heard that the storm was wetting down the Twin Cities metro area, though only as slushy rain. And the streets here were dry.

Now, as mid-morning approaches, we have here slushy rain that looks from my window as if it’s rapidly turning to flakes of snow. And in this first chapter of the cold season’s tale, I see – unfortunately – things undone. What with the Texas Gal’s work and schoolwork and my own chronic physical difficulties, a few autumnal chores that I had wanted to get done before snowfall did not get accomplished.

I had wanted to get the ladder up and spend a few hours one weekend day cleaning leaves from the gutters. That did not get done last year, and there were no resulting problems, but I wanted to check the gutters this fall to make certain we would have no difficulties. Circumstance and lack of time, however, have conspired to leave the ladder in the garage, except for the brief moments required to take off two screen windows and replace them with storms. I could have, I suppose, climbed higher on the ladder after changing the windows, but I am not as nimble as I once was, and the thought of climbing the ladder to rooftop level without someone holding it at the bottom was, frankly, a little scary. So I waited.

And, unless the weather is warm and dry during the week to come, I have likely waited too long.

The same holds true for the leaves on the ground. Our landlord came over a few weeks ago with a lawnsweeper and maneuvered most of the leaves into rough piles. I believe his intent was to return and remove the piles, but the advent of winter weather – five or so weeks ahead of the season itself – will likely mean the leaves will stay until spring. In the case of the flower beds where the perennials sleep, that’s probably fine.

One major chore did get accomplished: About a month ago, I tore down and discarded the small fence around our garden, and pulled up the stakes and tomato cages inside the fence. I’ve been meaning to head to the garden plot in the past few days to see if all our neighbors did the same; I’m wondering especially what happened to the plot laid so precisely down by two young men from the adjacent apartment complex and then left to go entirely to seed when one of the two – or so I’ve heard – moved away unexpectedly. I will likely have to make my way to the garden in boots on Monday.

Ah, well. None of the tasks left undone seem essential. It would have been better were they done, but – as I said above – time and physical circumstance played their cards this autumn and had better hands than the Texas Gal or I held.

As I’ve been writing, I’ve been watching through the study window as a woodpecker has been making his way around the nearest oak tree. I cannot tell through the mist what type of woodpecker it is. It could be a red-headed or a downy – more likely the latter, I think – but his insistence on finding his meal before the heavy snow sets in impresses me. And as I watch, I also see several of the squirrels who live in our trees as they forage for food this damp morning. And today is only prelude: The wet and snowy weather settling in for the weekend is only the first of numerous storms we can expect this cold season. At least, that’s what the folks at public radio have been saying, basing their own comments on a wide range of sources that include both science and cold and old wives’ tale.

I wrote six weeks ago that autumn “will end this year almost certainly as it has other years, in a four-week slice of rain and gloom and bitter wind.” Those four weeks are upon us, and no matter how light or heavy the snowfall from this weekend’s storm may be, we are experiencing what Boo Hewerdine and Darden Smith sang about on their Evidence album in 1989. I know I’ve posted the song before, but I believe it’s been some time. Even if it hasn’t, there’s no song in my library more appropriate today than that duo’s lovely “The First Chill of Winter,” and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

“The First Chill of Winter” by Boo Hewerdine & Darden Smith [1989]