Welcome to the October 2008 issue of The Kitchen Musician, my monthly folk music newsletter, featuring Peabody Hill, a new song about the place where my family and I go to decelerate.
Photo: Jerilyn Willig
Singing with the first grade.
I am confirmed for several wonderful shows this winter including a co-bill with the extremely talented John Schindler (who happens to live in Jaffrey, NH… where I recorded my song this month). In addition, I am doing a short program of mining songs at the Anthracite Heritage Museum in Scranton, PA.
© 2008 Tom Smith
Current news about politics and the economy is enough to rattle the nerves of even the most steel hardy of us. It has me seeking some comfort in simple places and simple things. I head for the hills… Peabody Hill that is. This is a place where my family and I find peace. Our little cabin is situated in the center of about 300 acres of wooded hills. Peabody Hill Road is “unimproved”. That is how New Hampshire defines roads that are not paved. For my thinking, it is not possible to improve this road.
As we turn the Subaru onto Peabody Hill Road, we cross a fragile looking stone bridge where we call “Hello Leo Leo!”. Leonardo is the turtle we hatched from an egg that was rescued from a construction site. We raised him in our acquarium, taught him to catch guppies, then we released him to the reservoir at the bottom of the hill. This is a composite photo of Leonardo as he was shortly after he hatched, and then four years later shortly before we released him. For the last ten years, we have been greeting Leo with “Hello Leo Leo!”, imagining that he has found turtle happiness on Peabody Hill.
Then we drive up the hill to our cabin. The walls are open studs, without a drop of paint on any internal surface. The yard is without a blade of grass to mow. The only heat comes from a Valiant wood stove in the central room.
The weather in August was particularly wet, so we spent a lot of time indoors, reading books, playing music and fiddling with our old radio. It shares Red Sox games with us… when it chooses to. The big excitement of last summer was the visit we received from our uphill neighbors, Jim and his son. Jim is the local park ranger on Mount Monadnock. He and his son are also dabbling in some light farming, having recently added chickens to their family. After about fifteen minutes of pleasant conversation, the real reason for their visit surfaced. Jim was a little uncomfortable telling me that I had to keep Oscar, our dog, away from his chickens as they were frightened by his visits. Jim knows that Oscar is a city dog who enjoys his forest freedom on Peabody Hill. I talked it over with Oscar, and although he admitted visiting the chicklets, he assured me it was only to “play” with them. Nonetheless, Oscar was placed on house arrest for a week, tethered to a running line strung between two pine trees. Look at that face. Does that look like a dog who would frighten chickens?
Last week after I recorded this song in the cabin, I climbed Mount Monadnock. It was a beautiful fall day. There I met my neighbor, Ranger Jim at the trail head and told him that Oscar had paid for his indiscretions. He seemed pleased that at least Oscar’s “learning event” made its way into a song.
I will carry this song with me through the cold winter and cruel political and economic climate that lie ahead.
Hoping you find your own Peabody Hill.
Peace and music,
P.S. In case you haven’t heard, I support Barack Obama. Please spread the word to your friends and relatives in the swing states!
Oct. 12, Sunday: I am the feature performer at the Parish Center for the Arts in Westford, MA. Music starts at 7:30 pm and my 30 minute set starts around 9:00 pm. Hosted by John Ferullo. $5 admission.
Oct. 25, Saturday: Come to the Holliston Mill Art Studios where you will enjoy numerous musicians and visit with artists in their studios. My performance runs from noon until 12:45.
Your opportunity to do good this month is to support my friend Meg Lloyd as she does the 3-day Breast Cancer Walk starting October 17. Net proceeds benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure and National Philanthropic Trust, funding important breast cancer research, education, screening, and treatment. You can learn more at www.the3day.org. Then click on the “Donate to Meg!” button to join me in supporting my friend in her important fund raising walk.