A Season Of Turning

Woodworker, carver, sailor, musician: Gordon Bok is an American treasure. Until several years ago, I’d not heard his name and might have missed his artistry forever, had it not been for the graciousness of a reader.

We’d been exchanging thoughts on music, and in an emailed post-script to our discussion he added, “I can’t think of a better song than Gordon Bok’s Turning Toward the Morning.”  Pointing me toward Albany, New York’s WAMC and their Saturday night broadcasts of the “Hudson River Sampler” he said, “I can almost guarantee you’ll hear something by Bok: if not this Saturday, then next Saturday for sure. And something by Stan Rogers as well. But you’ll also hear songs you’ve never heard before and will want to hear again.”

He was right. Since my introduction to Bok, his fellow musicians Ed Trickett and Ann Mayo Muir, and their rich repertoire from an entirely different sea-faring culture, I’ve not stopped wanting to hear more. I’ve learned net-hauling songs and ballads of the Maine coast. I’ve marveled at Bok’s original work and delighted in his preservation of folk tales rooted in world-wide cultures.

I’ve wondered at Bok’s pathway through life and been touched by his simplicity and kindness. I’ve even laughed at certain similarities between us.  “I didn’t understand what my father did because he worked in an office,” Bok once said, “and there was nothing that came out of it that I could feel – you couldn’t put a coat of varnish on it.”

After much reading and listening, I still agree with my friend. There are good songs — even great songs — abroad in the land, but there’s no better song than Turning Toward the Morning.  Like a small-boat day on the water, it’s easy and rhythmic, perfectly designed to soothe away preoccupations and care.

But it’s more than easy listening for an easy afternoon. It’s a poetic way of stating an inviolable truth; in the face of all that life imposes in the way of difficulties, chaos, and fear, life itself goes on. As Bok tells it:

“One of the things that provoked this song was a letter last November from a friend who’d had a very difficult year and was looking for the courage to keep on plowing into it. Those times, you lift your eyes unto the hills, as they say, but the hills of Northern New England in November can be about as much comfort as a cold crowbar.
You have to look ahead a bit then, and realize that all the hills and trees and flowers will still be there come Spring, usually more permanent than your troubles. And if your courage occasionally fails, that’s okay, too. Nobody expects you to be as strong as the land.”

Moving into Advent at a time when legislative wrangling, nuclear proliferation, urban violence, and generalized crass nastiness increasingly characterize our society, I can’t help but remember another old legend which finds echoes in Bok’s song.

Many years ago, I visited Stonehenge during the winter solstice and learned there that the word solstice itself is derived from the Latin solstitium: a combination of sun (sol) and stoppage (stitium). As the legend has it, at the moment of solstice it is not only the sun that stops. Those who choose a silent place, a quiet mind, and a stilled heart will hear the earth herself cease motion. Pausing as though to catch her breath, she waits for the sun to turn, and move, before joining him anew in their ageless journey toward the spring.

In this season of Advent, what the legends proclaim and the heart dares hope, Bok’s song affirms. Despite appearances, despite the world’s darkness in these winter-shortened days, the world continues to turn. Always, it is turning toward the morning.

Turning Toward the Morning ~ Gordon Bok (1975)

 

When the deer has bedded down
and the bear has gone to ground
and the Northern goose has wandered off
to warmer bay and sound,
it’s so easy in the cold
to feel the darkness of the year
and the heart is growing lonely for the morning.
Oh, my Joanie, don’t you know
that the stars are swingin’ slow,
and the seas are rollin’ easy as they did so long ago.
And if I had a thing to give you,
I would tell you one more time
that the world is always turning toward the morning.

Now, October’s growin’ thin
and November’s comin’ home,
you’ll be thinkin’ of the season
and the sad things that you’ve seen.
And you hear that old wind walkin’,
hear him singin’ high and thin,
you could swear he’s out there singin’ of his sorrow.
Oh, my Joanie, don’t you know
that the stars are swingin’ slow,
and the seas are rollin’ easy, as they did so long ago.
If I had a thing to give you,
I would tell you one more time
that the world is always turning toward the morning.

When the darkness falls around you
and the north wind comes to blow
and you hear him call your name out
as he walks the brittle snow.
That old wind don’t mean you trouble,
he don’t care or even know,
he’s just walking down the darkness toward the morning.
Oh, my Joanie, don’t you know
that the stars are swingin’ slow,
and the seas are rollin’ easy, as they did so long ago.
If I had a thing to give you,
I would tell you one more time
that the world is always turning toward the morning.

It’s a pity we don’t know
what the little flowers know
they can’t face the cold November,
they can’t take the wind and snow.
They put their glories all behind them,
bow their heads and let it go,
but you know they’ll be there shining in the morning.
Oh, my Joanie, don’t you know
that the stars are swinging slow,
and the seas are rollin’ easy, as they did so long ago.
And if I had a thing to give you,
I would tell you one more time
that the world is always turning toward the morning.
O, my Joanie don’t you know
that the day is rollin’ slow
and the winter’s walkin’ easy, as it did so long ago,
and if that wind should come and ask you
“Why’s my Joanie weepin’ so?”
won’t you tell him that you’re weeping for the morning.
Oh, my Joanie, don’t you know
that the stars are swingin’ slow,
and the seas are rollin’ easy, as they did so long ago.
And if I had a thing to give you,
I would tell you one more time
that the world is always turning toward the morning.

 

Comments always are welcome.

 

123 thoughts on “A Season Of Turning

  1. Linda, this is such a beautiful post. I absolutely loved the song by Mr. Bok. I’d never heard of him until this post. What a marvelous folk song- so beautifully written. I also think the photos are wonderful.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Yvonne. He’s written some great songs, but I suspect this always will be my favorite. The photo of the snow-covered lantana was taken the year of our Christmas Eve snowstorm: 2004. We had so much snow I was able to build a small snowman, and I tucked some of this lantana behind his ear.

    1. I can’t help being astonished now and then by how easy it is to communicate with someone on the other side of the world. Not only are the seasons reversed, and the direction we have to travel to find warmer or cooler territory, there’s that whole time difference thing. I had to grin last night when you mentioned Sunday afternoon, and I was thinking, “It’s nearly midnight. I need to go to bed.”

      I’m glad you enjoyed the song. Among other things, it seems to me to capture perfectly the poignancy of the turn into winter.

  2. Oh, that is so lovely. My hubby is asleep; I’m anxious to share it in the morning. I love voices I can hear and understand projecting over the instruments. The mood, instruments, harmony, words – beautiful. Thanks as you continue giving me delightful delicacies.

    1. That’s one reason I enjoy acoustic music, Oneta. I’m not at all opposed to an electric guitar, or a whole group filled with them, for that matter. But there’s something different and delightful about the pairing of the human voice and a simple instrument — or even just the human voice, singing.

      I hope your hubby enjoys the song, too. I’m glad you did.

    1. Even after years of listening to bluegrass, new grass, and string bands, I’d missed him. It’s a reminder of how diverse and delightful our country is. There are local and regional artists tucked away that most of us never hear of. That’s one reason I enjoy services like Pandora, that take my current preferences and offer up similar artists. I’ve met many a musician that way that I never would have crossed paths with otherwise.

  3. Beautiful post. I love folk music. This one has a lovely melody, with an addiction to slow toe tapping and/or humming from the beginning to the end. Thank you for this treasure. :)

    1. You’re welcome, Becca. It’s a treasure, indeed. He’s such a fine interpreter of sea shantys and has done some nice work with traditional Irish songs. Were you able to hear some music when you were in Ireland?

      1. I had a teaser!! :(
        The majority of the places had music starting around 9 pm. My traveling companions were in bed long before, and I was not comfortable venturing out alone. We did find a place in Galway where traditional music started late afternoon. I was able to enjoy while trying my 1st Irish whiskey!! ♡♡♡

          1. Love the ditty — :)

            Actually — I am not a fan of whiskey (or wasn’t). After a few days in Ireland, our driver (we loved him!) gave me the challenge to try black and white pudding, and Irish whiskey while there. I took the opportunity to use the Irish bar in Galway to give it a “go”. When the bartender asked me what kind I wanted — I laughed, and said “I have no clue”. Turns out she gave me one created by a woman “____” (forgot the name)! I took it “neat” with ice on the side “in case”, and sipped it SLOWLY. After reporting success on both challenges, he challenged me to try a different brand — so on a wild hair, I tried that one as well another night. Soooo, although, it is not my “go to” — I am glad I tried it! My traveling companions couldn’t believe it. We have photos to prove it! :)

            1. Good for you, becca. If I’d been there, I would have tried it to. After all, what’s the point of being in a new place if you don’t experience what it has to offer. And who knows? There’s always the possibility that whiskey taken in an Irish pub, with some good music playing, might taste worlds better than anything served up here.

      1. The clouds moved in here after midnight, so I missed the moonset I was looking forward to. But I did get to see its rise in a pink and blue twilight, and it was gorgeous.

    1. It’s hard to believe how quickly this year has passed. I suspect Hurricane Harvey contributed to a sense of disorientation, since it feels as though two months were simply carved out of the year. Of course, that would make December just the right name for this month, since it would be the tenth month and not the twelfth.

      That aside, one of the things I enjoy about Bok’s song is its ability to slow things down. It’s as though he’s saying, “When the world seems to be spinning out of control, it’s just spinning — and the self-styled spinmeisters don’t have as much control as they’d like to think.”

        1. That expectation of good has taken a hit, hasn’t it? Perhaps we’ll just have to be good and do good ourselves, rather than expecting good from certain others. It may be our only defense.

    1. There never can be too many reminders. I think this is one of the most beautifully hopeful songs I know. I’ve never been able to sort out in my own mind why I sense a difference between hope and optimism, but I do, and I think Bok’s songs reflect that.

      By the way — did you happen to read my previous post about the crepe myrtle? I thought about you and H trimming yours while I was writing it, and about how lovely its shape was when you got done. Thank goodness you understand how to treat one of those trees! Tree abuse is a terrible thing, and the poor crepes suffer it more than most.

  4. Oh, I love seeing Gordon Bok getting recognition! Isn’t he, and Muir and Trickett, wonderful? His voice, that deep rumbling, is so recognizable–it kind of rattles my soul!

    1. And I love that you know his work. All of that musical crew are wonderful, indeed, and he certainly does have a recognizable voice. Every time I hear one of his songs, it reminds me to go listen again to Gordon Lightfoot or Ian Tyson, just as they remind me to seek out Bok. It occurs to me that all three have a connection to the land (and sea) that gives their music a special kind of resonance.

        1. I do listen to Rogers. And to shift just a bit, one of my favorite female vocalists is Rhiannon Giddens, formerly with the Carolina Chocolate Drops. If I’m ever having a slow morning and need a pick-me-up, this one usually fixes things right up. Bill Monroe meets scat singing — what could be better?

          1. Wow–that’s a voice–fearless! Bits of it called Odetta to mind, and that can’t be a bad thing! Her fiddle playing is awesome, too! In my next life, I’m going to play the fiddle. . . . Thanks for the link!

            1. OMG–I was hyperventilating just watching it! How does she do that?? Now I’ve revised my plan for my next life–I want to play the kazoo like that!

  5. Sounding so like an Irish folk song, easy and breezy like the words of the song. A wonderful contribution to my morning, thank you. Having a rough holiday season this year and that song so put a smile on my face gave me a calm heart.

    1. It does have that sound, doesn’t it? I had a grandfather who would sing some of those Irish songs to me, and Bok can evoke the feeling of those times. The holidays can be a difficult time. One of the worst experiences of my life took place at Christmas, and it took a bit of time to get over it. Now, even those without personal difficulties have to put up with the blaring advertisements and crass commercialization — not easy for any of us. At least we have Bok’s song to relieve some of the stress.

    1. I’m sure you’d find the program worthwhile, Jean — not to mention enjoyable. I’ve learned a good bit about a part of the country I’ve never visited just from their selection of songs, and the bios of the songwriters.

      Peter, Paul, and Mary were my introduction to folk music, and being able to see them at the Kerrville Folk Festival in what would be one of Mary’s last performances was poignant in the extreme. Her health had declined precipitously, and it was a reminder to us all that 1962 was a very, very long time ago.

    1. You’re welcome, Gary. Our foggy morning has turned into a rainy morning, but it’s morning nonetheless, and it’s always good to be reminded that “sunny and clear” doesn’t have to be the only definition of a good morning.

      The moon was gorgeous, but it seems we’re going to have to wait for January to get another peek at a big one.

    1. It is both, isn’t it? It’s good music for a Sunday morning, or a Tuesday evening, or even a Saturday afternoon. Maybe you’ll find a reason to tell a patient or two, “Take two listens to Gordon Bok, and call me in the morning.” :-)

  6. Wonderful post, Linda. I wasn’t familiar with Mr. Bok, so thanks for the introduction to his work; this poem/song is gorgeous. From a Jewish perpsective and as we roll towards the darkest time of year, it’s about increasing the light (one of the themes of Hanukah, as each night a new light is added). But as you and Mr. Bok suggests, that’s a turn towards morning.

    1. One of the reasons I love John’s gospel is its way of describing the powerlessness of darkness when pitted against light. Artists of all sorts have taken up the theme, and I think Gordon Bok does it beautifully.

      One of my favorite a capella groups is Shir Soul. Their “Timeless As The Stars” video addresses darkness and light on several levels. As many times as I’ve watched the video, I didn’t realize until this morning that I’d missed the “clue” that helps to contextualize everything. Between 2:50 and 2:60 it becomes clear. The young man in the red plaid shirt is the little boy, all grown up.

  7. That’s beautiful (as are your photos, particularly the snow-raked one). You might enjoy a British singer called Ange Hardy, have a look for her on Youtube.

    1. Thanks for the recommend, Val. I will have a listen. Out of curiosity, do you listen to music while you’re working on your colorings? I can’t listen when I’m reading or writing, but I’ve found myself wondering if other artists, like you, are able to. Everyone’s different in their approach, of course, but I’ve always been intrigued by peoples’ preferences in work places and routines.

      1. If I’m working on an abstract – digitally or with ‘real’ media, then I listen to music. I rarely do when I’m working on a colouring because I’ve got an almost constant ‘story’ going through my head! (I tell myself what’s happening in the photo…) That said, sometimes I need to break up an idea – for instance, I sometimes get fixated on a particular colour for an item of clothing – then I’ll put on some music to distract myself. The thing I can’t do anymore when music is on, is write. Oh and, no, can’t read with music on, either. I expect it’s something to do with the hemisphere of the brain that is active during music listening – it’s the left brain, I think, and art tends to be right hemisphere.

        1. I’m not sure which parts of my brain are involved, but I do know that music and writing or reading don’t mix for me because I can’t concentrate on both at the same time. If music’s play, I get drawn into it, and stop thinking about whatever else I was doing. If I’m fully engaged in reading or writing, I don’t hear the music anyway, so why turn it on?

          The proof for my concentration thesis may be my grandmother clock. If I’m simply messing about the house — paying bills, or doing dishes, or whatever — I sometimes hear it ticking, and always hear it chime. If I’m reading or writing, I can go for hours without hearing it. Sometimes, I think I’ve allowed the weights to go all the way to the bottom, but when I check, all is well. I just haven’t heard it.

          1. It’s how we process things creativity that stops us being aware of sounds (and, often, other sensory perceptions). You’ve noticed, I’m sure, that when you’re enjoying something ‘time stops’? I think creativity stops more than just time.

            I was thinking about this question yesterday after replying to you, and realised that what happens with me when there’s music on, is that I go into a sort of trance, so if there’s something to read or write, I’m really not on the planet anymore, just can’t do it!

            I remember a grandfather clock of some sort in my… uh… grandmother’s house. (That boggles my mind!)

    1. There’s always something or someone new to learn about, isn’t there? I’m pleased to have made the introduction, and I’m glad you enjoyed the song.

      As an aside, I met a woman yesterday who may become a neighbor. She has a Jack Russell whose name I don’t know, but I hope she moves in. I’ve developed this conviction that anyone with a JR in their life has to be a fine person.

  8. What a simple yet profound realization: The world is always turning toward the morning. It’s literally true. We can only hope it’s figuratively true as well. It’s also supposed to be darkest before the dawn. It’s been getting pretty dark lately. I hope that means dawn is coming.

    1. I suppose that’s part of the appeal of the song: the combination of the recognizably literal meaning, and a metaphor that’s expansive enough to hold anyone’s sorrow.

      As for the darkness brooding over the land, it seems apparent that some are attempting to hold back the dawn. One day, they’ll realize how futile their efforts are. It would please me if that happened sooner rather than later.

  9. How have I lived this long without hearing Bok’s lovely song before?? Thank you, Linda, for introducing me to it. I love its rhythms and restful feel!

    This post recalls something our priest said during his homily last night. Advent, of course, is a time of watching and waiting with expectation. He said if each of us would commit to just 20 minutes a day of quietude, of sitting silently before the Lord, we’d be amazed at the change we’d see by Christmastime. I imagine he’s right. Finding 20 minutes each day for silence during this hectic time of year is a real challenge unto itself!

    1. It took me a while to find Gordon Bok, but I’m certainly glad I did. This song is lovely, but he’s recorded a lot of splendid music. He doesn’t tour any more, mostly because of increasing age and certain other challenges, but at least there are multiple ways to enjoy his work.

      I certainly agree with your priest about the importance of silence. I don’t happen to think that it needs to be a passive silence, but I do think it’s important to have time to think, to observe the world around us, and to reflect on our own experiences. I’ve mentioned here and there my conviction that external silence feeds internal silence, and internal silence serves creativity by helping us rid ourselves of the shoulds, oughts, and what-ifs that can be so crippling.

      Anyway! here we are at the doorway to Advent. If you give your priest’s advice a try, I’d be interested to know what you think about it by Christmas. Advice like his always seems to fall into the category of, “It can’t hurt, and it might do some good!”

      1. Finding 20 minutes every day to sit in silence would be a real challenge, Linda. I just don’t think I’m up to it, anymore than I’m up to participating in NaNoWriMo, that write-your-novel-in-a-month campaign. I think I’d just feel so pressured to get something done that I’d consider myself a failure when I didn’t (and that’s obviously NOT the message I need, ha!)

        1. I’m not sure I could just sit in silence, either. But working in silence? Absolutely. I’ve come to enjoy it greatly. Of course, my “office” lends itself to such!

  10. Thanks for this! I did not know of this artist, but when he started singing, I thought for a moment that I was hearing Stan Rogers. I like the way he sings close to the earth, and invites the kind of reflection that is too easily lost in our eagerness for technological fixes of problems that have to do with looking at ourselves, and our relationships. A very fine way to begin the Advent pilgrimage.

    1. Your association of Gordon Bok with Stan Rogers makes sense. They come from similar traditions, they have similar voice, and unless my memory fails me, they’re performed together a good bit.

      That earthiness is what I think I most enjoy, not only with Bok, but with two of your Canadian singers who are among my favorites: Gordon Lightfoot and Ian Tyson. I suppose it’s true enough to say they’re from another era, but so am I, and I still prefer songs of the real world to virtual games.

      Of course, I was gifted with an online Advent calendar this year, so some very old traditions have joined with new technologies. No matter. The season is the same, and I hope yours is filled with blessings.

    1. His songs aren’t as varied as those produced by some artists, but for anyone who loves ships, the sea, boat-building, and a 19th century approach to homesteading and handcrafts, he’s one of the most original around, and well worth a bit of exploration. Together with Ed Trickett and Ann Muir, he’s done some memorable work. I’m glad you liked this song.

  11. Gordon Bok’s name did not ring a bell – but his voice and musical style did. I have heard him several times on A Prairie Home Companion and MPR’s The Morning Show (with Dale Connelly and Jim Ed Poole).

    Sadly, The Morning Show ended a few years ago and The Prairie Home Companion self-destructed in scandal last week.

    But all that aside, a link to The Morning Show still exists. It is a fun read….here

    1. That’s a great bio page you linked. My favorite expression probably was “detached bemusement.” Let’s see… Why would that remind me of someone else I read on a regular basis?

      Every now and then I’ll have the same experience of suddenly putting name and face to a voice I’ve heard for years. I wonder if that experience is more common to those of us who grew up listening to radio, because television hadn’t yet made it into our homes? I was seven when we got our first tv. Before that, it was all Fibber McGee, the Shadow, and Gildersleeve on WHO out of Des Moines. I still can hear some of those voices.

  12. Beautiful, Linda. I love all of the seasons. Fall and winter have their own beauty and sooth my soul in their own way. I do wish we could hurry up getting through the dark times humanity seems to get stuck in, however. –Curt

    1. You’re right about every season having its charm. Some are less obvious than others, but they’re real. We’re lucky to have flowers in fall as well as spring, but when they’re gone, the migrating birds help to fill the void.

      And there’s always the excitement of a cold front. The one that’s on the move right now is supposed to provide us with a high of 49F tomorrow. No way to adjust the thermostat in my office!

      1. Was down to 20 here this morning, Linda. I put the heater in our van to keep its water pipes from freezing! Last year I had to replace the pump and connecting pipes to our bathroom in the van to the tune of $500. So I get excited about cold fronts as well. –Curt

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Elizabeth. It is a hope-filled song. It also seems to have the ability to slow us down a little, or comfort us when life has slowed us down regardless of our wishes. You know a little about that!

  13. Some very wise ideas here, that the world is always turning towards morning, and what that means, that if your courage fails as you face the winter, that’s OK – I love the un-stiff-upper-lip idea that nobody expects you to be as strong as the land. It brings you back to realizing that the world is bigger than your troubles, which is often just what you need at moments of dark despair. And then, that photo of the snow on the flowering plant – not sure what it is – gorgeous! Like a fine Japanese print. (Oh, and do you know about the notion that on the equinox days you can balance an egg on its end? That kind of pairs with the notion of pausing and letting yourself feel the stillness at the solstices).

    1. The plant in snow is Lantana. I took the photo in 2004, the year that the Texas coast was graced with a significant snowfall on Christmas Eve. It was so significant that some snow lasted for days. At midnight on Christmas Eve, everyone believed in miracles, and if you ask someone, “Were you here for the Christmas miracle?” anyone who’s been around for a while knows exactly what you mean. My favorite memory is of a woman from Norway, barefoot and in nothing more than a nightgown, on the phone to her husband in Oslo, saying over and over again, “It’s just like home! It’s snowing! Like home!”

      I have heard about the possibility of standing an egg on its end. I know people who’ve tried, but I’ve yet to find anyone who’s managed it. On the other hand, a quick search of the literature (hello, Snopes and Business Insider) makes clear that eggs can be balanced on their ends any day of the year, depending on the egg and the balancer’s patience. Now I have this impulse to get my dozen out and give it a try.

      Like you, I was caught by that comment about the strength of the land. There’s no question that nature, or nature-based art, has the ability to heal. That’s one reason (though only one) that its preservation is so important.

  14. Beautiful, beautiful song – I love this type of music and the message is what we (or at least I) need to hear with regularity these days. I might put this right up there with my favorite folk song, The Dimming of the Day, by Richard and Linda Thompson. (My favorite version is by two relatively unknown sisters, Lily and Madeline. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhdSvJo3-Fk)

    1. I’ve never heard of Lily and Madeleine, but their version is wonderful. I can understand why it’s your favorite. Besides, what’s not to like about two sisters from Indianapolis sitting down on a couch to record their songs?

      I’d come across a version done in concert by Linda Thompson, with Richard backing, but the context kept competing with the song for attention — as I recall, they either had split or were in the process. I could hardly listen to the song for looking at the obvious pain in her face. I went to an Iris DeMent concert once where the same thing happened. She was in the midst of a most unhappy time in her life, and it showed. I’m glad she was able to put it behind her.

      Now, if only we can put some of the turmoil of our national life behind us. Until we do, at least we have Gordon Bok.

    1. Sharing the good things we discover is so important. Had someone not shared with me, I couldn’t have shared with you. It’s the same dynamic as your recent concert at school. Those who shared with the children in the process of preparing them made it possible for the children to share with their audience. It’s certainly in the spirit of the season.

    1. That’s a good comparison that I wouldn’t have thought of, Andy. I enjoyed Reeves’ music, and was happy to be reminded of it.

      I’m glad you liked this song, too. I think part of its appeal is its simplicity. Like your leaf collages, it’s proof that simplicity and earthiness can contribute a good bit to art.

      1. I enjoyed the lyrics too – good to follow them in print while I listened. How refreshing too to listen to popular music where all the words can be heard, that’s one thing about Country and Western music, they nearly all sing clearly, something that is often rare in most Rock & Roll music.

        1. Clearly, the movement in rock has been toward larger groups, more amplification, and production rather than performance. I love a number of rockers as much as anyone, but there’s just no singing along with Dire Straits.

  15. I assume that’s a Bok woodcarving at the head of the post. Whether or not, it’s tremendously appealing. Also fun for me was to see our local station, WAMC, noted! Amusing for Bok to say of his father what we often thought of ours, growing up—at least until we took a tour of the place where he worked, which was a steel mill. The fiery furnaces left an indelible impression, to say the least.

    1. It is. I neglected to add the link to the gallery, but I’ve added it to the image now. It’s actually a bronze called “Hawkins on the Wentworth” and it’s in place at the Harbor Square Gallery in Rockland, Maine. It’s a fabulous piece.

      That tickles me, that I’ve been listening to your station all this time. It certainly has some fine programming.

      Steel mills are impressive places, period. I can only imagine what it was like to actually tour one. I got to visit the factory floor at Maytag with my dad once, but conveyor belts of partly-completed appliances don’t have quite the same clout as your furnaces.

  16. Ah, Linda, once again and always, a treat to read your post. Like some of the commenters I’d also missed Gordon Bok. Thanks for the link — love his rich voice. He’s the type of singer/songwriter that is dear to my heart — along with Stan Rogers, Tyson and Lightfoot. Jim Croce is another favourite. They write and sing of times and events that echo deep in my heart.

    1. Tyson was the first I came to know, back in the days of “Ian & Sylvia.” I bought their first album when I still was in high school, I believe. There’s a thought! Then Lightfoot came along, and Croce, but Stan Rogers and Gordon Bok? I just missed them. Even once I moved into the sailing world, it was Jimmy Buffett that held sway, the Gulf Coast and Maine being very far apart, in more than a few ways.

      But now I know, and I’m glad I could introduce Bok to some others who’d missed him. Just think how many such discoveries still await. The natural world isn’t the only world that holds some surprises.

  17. Turning towards the morning…..how wonderful, that’s my favorite time of day. It doesn’t matter if it’s spring, summer, autumn or winter, there is so much beauty in each and every morning. Everything is renewed, refreshed and calm. Lovely post and enjoyed the song

    1. You probably see more early mornings than most people: or, at least, you’re no doubt in a position to enjoy them more fully. Watching the sun come up in the middle of freeway traffic isn’t much of a delight. Watching the sun rise over the hills, or even light up the clouds from a backyard vantage point? That’s something different.

      And you’re right about the season making no difference. Even the shortest day of the year has a morning.

  18. I have lost many memories due to my illness, but for some reason I remember Linda the varnish lady working on Mike and Karen’s Columbia 35 Wanderer one morning. Sitting there so calm and serene listening to music plying her trade. The moment was….perfect. What a great memory to retain. I wonder what music you were listening to. As for that Dire Straits comment. They speak (or sing) English. We speak Texan so I cannot understand either! My how many comments you are generating now. You are a internet star now and I knew you when you first started out! I still enjoy stopping by. Ken

    1. Ken, that’s such a lovely memory I wish I knew what music I was listening to. But it really doesn’t matter. I remember so well working on that boat, and their adventures with Hurricane Ike, and how pleasurable it always was to chat with you.

      You would have been amazed to see Portofino after Hurricane Harvey’s flooding. They said the current was flowing at about ten knots down the channel, and it was well above the wooden deck and picnic area. When it was all over, so much sand had been dropped it looked like the beach at Galveston. It’s cleaned up and repaired now, of course, but people still are talking about it.

      I’m so happy to see you again. I’m hardly a star — but I have been persistent. It’s interesting to see people come and go. Many readers from my first years have disappeared, for a multitude of reasons, I suppose. But there still are some — like you — who continue to visit, and that gives me the greatest pleasure in the world. Thank you!

  19. Thanks for introducing me to another fine musician! Such pure music and singing! I love finding the obscure talent via radio as I have discovered many on NPR. A very fine post that has generated many comments. I loved the lantanas in the snow.

    1. I took the photo of the lantana on Christmas day, 2004 — the year of the so-called “Christmas Miracle,” when it began to snow on Christmas Eve. Were you in South Texas then? If so, you may have had even more snow than we did. It’s still one of my favorite memories, and some of the photos that were collected in the HEB books after the fact are beautiful.

      Like you, I enjoy discovering new talent — as well as rediscovering musicians I’ve appreciated in the past, but forgotten. The other day, I came across this, and it was 1968 again.

  20. ‘ there was nothing that came out of it that I could feel – you couldn’t put a coat of varnish on it.”

    That made me laugh – so true, and a nice attitude to have!

    Those days of the solstice and equinox are special, and hopefully this year I’ll be in a quiet spot to pause and tune into ‘pachamama’ and her alignment with the sun. Down here I’ve not witnessed mother earth ‘cease motion’ but with the many temblors I think I’ve felt her pulse – a lot!

    1. I noticed that there was another earthquake off your coast a few days ago — maybe a week or more by now — but there were no reports of damage or injuries, so I didn’t worry. I did read one article that said some rebuilding had been completed there according to more stringent standards. I’m sure that’s not as widespread yet as it should be, but at least it’s a move in the right direction. New standards have just been agreed upon for certain areas of Houston — standards that would have prevented many flooded homes had they been in place during Harvey. It appears that the developers aren’t going to have the free rein that they’ve had in the past: at least until they start spreading the money around again.

      1. Si; it was a very strong earthquake, and the ‘new’ house shook for over a minute… how long the shaking lasted depended on the location, but the epicenter was between Bahia and Jama.. I was 2 hours away via car ‘time’ – all fine but it was a reminder to always be prepared. I saw where one part of a coastal highway collapsed south of Manta and heard that the just-finished restoration of the Museum in Bahia now has new damage…. a new ‘red flag’ side effect from the terremoto is that now there are lots of brick-making spots – i counted fourteen near the city of Chone… and they all consume the carcasses of local trees to fire the bricks.. people are stripping their hillsides and selling the wood to the brick-making folks, and the landscape is being quickly desnuded… worrisome – i may never buy another brick!

        1. Ah – the law of unintended consequences raises its head again. You’ve reminded me of the clear-cutting that was the practice in Liberia, for rice farming. Once a field was cleared for rice, it was farmed until production declined and then more bush was stripped. There were quite a few farming projects underway in Liberia when the civil war put an end to them. There are examples of deforestation all over, of course. “Short-sighted” is one word that comes to mind.

  21. I like artists like Gordon Bok who have been able to blend different mediums, in his case music, poetry and woodworking! They are so attuned to nuances in the environment and he sure shows it through his art.

    1. Doesn’t he, though? One of the reasons I often think of Bok and Ian Tyson together is because the art of each is “grounded” in the most literal sense. Despite their different worlds, their music and other artistic endeavors grow out of their experiences in the physical world: rodeo, sailing, woodworking, and so on. The physical world pushes back, and shapes us as surely as we shape it. In the physical world, the truth that “actions have consequences” becomes visible — it seems as though fewer and fewer people understand that.

  22. The good news is that lantana is one of our toughest flowers. It was among the first to come back after the flood, and it can take a drought. Like some of our winter bedding plants (pansies, snapdragons, cyclamen) it sometimes blooms through the winter — depending on conditions, of course.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed his song, and thank you for letting me know. It’s always nice to introduce people to new artists of one sort of another; it’s one of the real pleasures of blogging.

      Thank you for stopping by. You’re always welcome here!

  23. I’m so behind on posts and I don’t know how I missed this. I loved the song — thank you for that. And the photos. And I really was interested in learning the definition/history/origin of the term “solstice.” We’re coming up on it — and then the light will return.

  24. Jeanie, I probably shouldn’t laugh, but I can’t help it. One look at your house explains perfectly well why you’ve missed a post here and there. Add in the sale and the baking to come, and — well, ’tis the season for things other than blog reading.

    The song is wonderful. It’s a good one any time of year, but it’s especially apt now. I dearly love it, and it made me happy to find a way to share it. I’m glad you enjoyed it, too. And enjoy all those lights you have — they do help stave off the darkness.

    1. Gordon Bok and Ian Tyson are two of my favorites: one of the sea, the other of the land. I’m happy to have introduced you to Bok. He’s quite a visual artist, too, but his music is my real love.

      I’ve been terribly behind, but have been keeping up with your travels. This weekend I’ll have time to comment on your posts. If my comments don’t show up, I’ll email you, as I’m having difficulties with WordPress and many of my comments are being thrown into spam or simply disappering. it’s always something.

    1. Bok is one of those whose music and art is grounded in his work and his place in the world. It gives it a wonderful solidity, and a straightforwardness that’s refreshing. His realm is the sea, as Ian Tyson’s is the cattleman’s world, and it’s impossible not to hear it. I’m glad you liked the song. It’s a special one.

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