Sunday, April 20, 2014



is when


feels oddly

too new

[  BA ]

Saturday, April 19, 2014

SPRING 2014 ~

In our spring rounds — hiking and brushing off the mud — we happened to try our luck at the end of the day at one of those modern grocery stores that act fully as a casino — loud lighting, terrible music littering the air space, something about "gold coins" which we didn't have, people in a mad dash with carts! and found for ourselves what we had been hoping to find after a very long winter: strawberries, not from New England yet of course, but shipped from Watsonville, California, which I can't help but think of John Steinbeck's East of Eden, each strawberry deeply red and ripe for eating on the half hour drive on the backroads to home. And that's what we went and did.


drawing © bob arnold

Friday, April 18, 2014


It's Spring in northern New England after a very long winter.
Just like that, our snow in this valley is about gone in one flashy and warm with spring showers week. Don't say miracles don't happen.

What's to do but throw open any window I can after the sun gets up over Owl's Head range, 25 degrees the other morning but an April-25 degrees, warming by the moment. We're out there on saw-horses building all day standing in snow melt and mud and grass showing forth. The river our constant companion, loud and clear.

Just in case there is still one person who may have never heard this song,  it's well worth repeating it all here. Nina Simone is on right now where we work outdoors, live recording, the only way to go with this temptress. No one like her. Maybe in deepest Africa a girl is singing like this right now. Unless she has a Madonna t-shirt on; then she's been touched. Nina Simone is all drum. All river.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Dear S ~,

Do have S send me her new book of poems, if you can both afford such a gesture, and I'll be sure to send you something new in return. The rites of a real Spring. Excited to learn of this for S. Readings off the island. If you and I ever get to have the chance to do a public reading I hope we can read on a pathway on the island, and whoever shows up by luck, happenstance, or plan, this will be who we read to. The years I read on the street raising money for Hurricane Katrina relief, and inviting Greg Joly to join (about the only one who would steer with my all outdoor, anonymous scheme) was exactly this way. Most who walked by thought we must be "religious." We answered, "Well, a religion of a sort."

You may not be inhabiting the new place but by all photographs you are making it your own. Slow and steady and sure work. It will be left for someone after you are done with it. Can a building have a finer life? Who knows where this fine door you are pressing together in cuts and strong angles will finally end up. In Vermont? Nantucket? Paris? Doors get around. I used one once in a pinch for a snow plow.

The past two weeks we have watched all our snow go into the ground and go away in the river. The river has been running like an emerald we haven't seen for years.

I've been every day with renovation work on the faraway cottage. I'm not sure I even had that built yet when you both visited? Built in 2000. Then the studio in 2002. The renovations in the cottage are all bookshop related since the whole building has been taken up with the book trade. Same with the studio; in fact, same with the house. So I've been building floor to ceiling bookcases and circling the room with these all downstairs. Not a space left free from bookcase — around all the windows, and there are many windows I put in since there is no electricity. Over and around the dutch door I built once upon a time. It's a spooky place to be in at the dead of winter, early morning, snowshoeing up there to retrieve books with a flashlight. It was organic and flavored by luck before we finally gave up with the stacks and mounds and table top piles of books and decided: enough! build those bookcases before the books take over. They had "take-over" written all over the dustjackets.

Since sugaring was very poor, mud season was very light, at least on our road. That's the usual m.o. While other dirt roads have been closed. A very cold March. The frost eased out of the ground gradually but the days weren't warm and nights cold for the sap to flow. It stayed only cold, often bitter. During that time an artist I have yet to meet in northern Vermont sent me a sheaf of his sugar bush drawings and wondered if I had any poems to go with them? I didn't, but I had a bad case of the flu, down for the count for a few days and over that time I wrote the poems and made the book for him and me. Never did that before! Couldn't again! Coming out May Day. One way or another we'll get a sugaring year out of 2014.

It was 75 degrees yesterday, sleeves rolled up. Today they say we may see snowflurries. Check that — a snowfall.
all's well, Bob 

photo © bob arnold

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


construction of the Eiffel Tower, 1888

photograph by Pierre Petit

Monday, April 14, 2014


Jesse Winchester
(b. May 17, 1944 Bossier City, LA ~ 2014)

We woke up before dawn Saturday morning to the news of this great loss to the music world, and the world in general, whether it knows yet or not.

I had just posted a Birdhouse piece to Charis Weston and couldn't ruffle yet its feathers. JW knew all about waiting.

Go find his records — they look so good in full LP mode. Especially his first recording simply titled Jesse Winchester, produced by Robbie Robertson, issued out of Woodstock, New York by Albert Grossman's Bearsville label, Todd Rundgren as recording engineer. Winchester was then on the run, from the draft, the Vietnam War, the law, and the album cover showed forth in full glory, from front to back cover, in the same wilderness era wanted poster style. Not bad for a native southern boy whose father was in the Army Air Corps stationed in Louisiana at the time of Winchester's birth. The draft dodger and recent Williams College graduate settled in Montreal, became a Canadian citizen in 1973, and played his first U.S. concert in a decade after President Jimmy Carter issued an amnesty for draft evaders in 1977.

Which doesn't mean Winchester's career went soaring. Anything but.

More albums had by then been issued, all gems, and most are still found to this day in dollar bins if you can find a record store in your town.

We found Jesse Winchester one night, about fifteen years ago, in a small club in Massachusetts. Same club where we found Townes Van Zandt, Spider John Koerner, David Ray, Ramblin Jack Elliott; yes! it was some club. Side street, squeeze in, the stage the size of a card table, the music all terrific, the audience all swaying in the same clover. We brought our young son Carson to all of these concerts, by then an already devoted music loving cub reporter (Sweetheart was pregnant with Carson for the Townes concert, so yes he was there) and he met Jesse who was kind of snarly and kind of shy. It probably made sense from the territory where he had been. The man would fight two different bouts of cancer, and be taken by the second strike.

I've been playing his music all through the past weekend. Here's a clutch of songs, amongst an easy two dozen, I always liked.