cloudy light, goldfinch, concert

11.27.20 ~ Sheep Farm, Groton, Connecticut

On Friday we returned to Sheep Farm, last visited early in April, so we still haven’t visited when the leaves are green. Maybe next summer on a low humidity day. Autumn colors were still pronounced on this lovely day.

glacial erratics in a golden and russet meadow
very cloudy day
leaf love
struggling to stay green
a burl
beech bark
beech leaf
waterfall from above
waterfall from below
right side of waterfall
left side of waterfall
beech with lichen
lichen on twig
loved the contrast between the green and the rusty oranges

Most of the birds we saw were too far away but I finally spotted this goldfinch, perhaps a juvenile or nonbreeding female. I was delighted even if he/she wasn’t brightly colored or willing to come out of the foliage.

American goldfinch
I see you!
loved this spot of yellow in the middle of the browns
telephoto shot of the yellow
contrast again between green and straw colors

And then, after such a wonderful day, that night I had a new experience, watching a livestreaming concert on my laptop. It was wonderful!

I’ve been a Mary Chapin Carpenter fan for years. My father introduced her music to me one night when he was watching a recorded performance she had on PBS. It must have been in the late 1980s. My father played the guitar and he and I shared a love of guitar-playing troubadours. He loved Woody Guthrie. I loved James Taylor. We both loved Mary Chapin Carpenter. I started buying Mary Chapin’s CDs and playing them while driving around town in our 1988 Dodge Caravan with our first CD player that came with the car.

my father and me

Then, one day in 2012, I found out that she was going to do a show on September 15 in a cabaret setting at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts in Storrs, Connecticut. Right there in the town where I grew up! But everything was falling apart in our lives at the time. Tim had been hospitalized for several days in August with a cardiovascular event, my failing 97-year-old aunt was being moved from elderly housing into my father’s house, and my father was ill and wheelchair-bound. Even so, Tim and my brother-in-law John held down the fort so my sister Beverly and I could go see the concert together. Mary Chapin talked a lot between her songs about her life and her music and it felt very intimate. It was such an extraordinary evening to share with my sister, who is also a fan.

This concert was special, too, livestreaming with two hours of music, but no talking in between the songs. It must be strange singing without being able to see and get feedback from your audience. Mary Chapin’s voice has gotten deeper over the years but is still beautiful and expressive. I found myself comfy and cozy on the couch, content to be enjoying the unfolding of a new memory.

30 thoughts on “cloudy light, goldfinch, concert”

    1. It’s true, it’s a blessing having the seasons change, an endless visual feast for the eyes. And music, another gift to delight our ears. I cannot play an instrument or carry a tune, but I’m so grateful to the musicians who can.

    1. Thank you, Frank. The berries and lichen always seem to stand out in the neutral brown landscape, cheerful accents in the soothing backgound of earthy colors. Tim’s been telling his friends about this park and they’re becoming fans of it, too.

    1. So happy to have you along on this walk, Leelah! It’s nice to know you enjoy the same natural beauty and the appreciate the light. 💙

  1. I wasn’t familiar with her music before, so I’ve just listened to some. You’re right, she is lovely, isn’t she? The perfect voice to be singing to us right now. I’m glad you have this new memory, coming after a glorious day walking in the beautiful park.

    1. So many of her songs are poetry. I’ve loved many songwriters at different points in my life, but she has been a constant for many years now. Her lyrics always seeming to have a direct bearing on whatever I’m going through. I’m so happy to have introduced her to you!

  2. I also enjoy the contrast between green and rusty orange. Really awakens the senses for me.

    But my favorite picture from this post is of you and your father. Beautiful and so full of life, love and the promise of the future.

    I wish photographs had embedded sound so I could hear him play for you. I guess that memory is yours alone to keep.

    Wonderful post Barbara.

    1. Thank you so much, James! That picture is one of my favorites, too. I wish it wasn’t so blurry but I’m grateful for the glimpse into where my love for music was nurtured. As Papa got older he played the piano more than the guitar and sent us off to slumberland many nights playing lullabies and Bach. Sadly, he stopped playing anything after my mother died in 1991. (He died in 2013.) Things were never the same but the childhood memories still comfort me.

      1. I’m glad to read that your childhood memories comfort you. My father was a raconteur, a latter day seanchaí. His sudden death left all of his children feeling a bit emptier inside although we have taken to repeating stories and phrases he so often utilized.

        May they all rest in peace and their souls be ensconced in paradise!

        Kurt Vonnegut once wrote: “Music is, to me, proof of the existence of God. It is so extraordinarily full of magic, and in tough times of my life I can listen to music and it makes such a difference.”

        1. Speaking of storytellers, back in February 2006, we went with friends to see Kurt Vonnegut, Joyce Carol Oates and Jennifer Weiner having an informal conversation on stage at the Connecticut Forum. It was fascinating hearing their different approaches to writing and their thinking on various subjects. Vonnegut said his books felt like tumors that he had to cut out of himself and get down on paper, that the process was painful. He felt that the purpose of life was to help each other through it. It was an unforgettable evening.

  3. Beauty in the outside world and then beauty in the inside world. I’m now tempted to listen to some of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s music. And go outside and take a walk in nature!

    1. Hope you got a chance to do both things, Kathy! Thank you for seeing the beauty in the landscape and in the heart. (I just discovered I can listen to her entire new album on YouTube. 🙂 )

  4. I’m listening to her as I type this comment. I’d heard of her before, but not knowingly listened to her – what beautiful music! And I see she has played with Shawn Colvin, whose music I did already know. 🙂 Thanks for the introduction.

    Your photos are beautiful and it’s nice to know about another facet of your father.


    1. Thank you, Val! I’m glad you’re enjoying her music now, too. It’s funny, it was the opposite with me, I saw Shawn Colvin in a conversation with Mary Chapin Carpenter on TV one day and that’s how I discovered Shawn. Apparently they’ve been friends for over 30 years and have toured together several times. I’m going to see if I can find any videos of them playing together.

      I hope all is going well with you — it was so good to hear from you. 💙

        1. Thank you for the link, Val! I enjoyed listening to it this morning and found the duet very lovely. I’m glad you’re okay but I guess there are many reasons these days a lot of us are finding ourselves more tired than usual.

  5. Beautiful autumn photos, Barbara. I am a big fan of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s music and have been for years. Her lyrics are so relatable and human. I’ve written several essays that include her songs and how they’ve fit into certain times in my life. I wish I would’ve known about this show. Maybe at some point it will be made available for the public to watch.

    1. Thank you, Cheryl. Sorry you missed this show — I imagine it will be available online sooner or later. I wouldn’t have heard about it unless I had happened to log onto Facebook and saw a notification for it on the day it was announced on her timeline. I don’t often catch things like that! (One of the reasons I stay on Facebook in spite of the constant urges to delete my account.) I’ve quoted her lyrics on this blog many times over the years, so I can see why you’d find plenty to say about them in an essay.

  6. Such gorgeous photos, Barbara! I especially love the waterfall, the goldfinch, and that evergreen standing in a straw-colored field. How nice to make new memories via an online concert (though somethings tells me, she was missing the interaction of a live event!)

    1. Thank you, Debbie! That waterfall was wonderful because we could hear it long before we could see it. The sense of anticipation was invigorating. And after the summer’s drought we were happy to see the brook full of water. Wolf Trap was definitely an eerie setting, especially when the camera panned out over all those empty seats.

  7. This looks like such an enjoyable walk Barbara and you’re still catching the last of the Fall leaves – lucky you. I love that cute little goldfinch tucking himself out of the way (or so he thinks) from the humans, but peering at you as he’s curious. I’ve never heard Mary Chapin Carpenter’s music before but I had the same admiration for Linda Ronstadt and followed her career through the years and had many of her albums. My favorite was “Simple Dreams” and I recently listened to that album and remembered every word … I was sorry to read that Linda Ronstadt no longer performs due to Parkinson’s Disease.

    1. Those beech leaves have the tendency to hang on for the whole winter, letting go only when the new leaves push them out in the spring. I suspect I will keep finding them over the winter. It’s called marcescence. Hmmm… maybe a new tag category… The goldfinch was such a tease! But at least the pictures illustrated her personality. I remember loving Linda Ronstadt’s “Blue Bayou” in the 70s but didn’t follow her much afterwards. I’ll listen to “Simple Dreams” if I can find it today. 🙂 That’s so sad, Parkinson’s is a cruel disease. My husband’s uncle eventually died from it after suffering for several years. So sorry to hear Linda Ronstadt has it. 🙁

      1. My ornamental tree (Japanese red Lace-leaf Maple) loses a few leaves now, the rest in the Spring. Very odd. The goldfinch was shy – yes she had personality and maybe you surprised her as she’s used to no foot traffic in that area. I really did like Linda Ronstadt’s music – that album was popular and I played it a lot and was amazed I recalled the words to each song. She had a mournful voice in some songs, like “Blue Bayou” which was one of my favorite songs. She has not had any concerts in over a decade and has written a book by the same name as that album “Simple Dreams”. There was a story I read about her once and she had two tick bites in the 80s. Each tick bite made her very ill and her doctor believes there is a tie to her Parkinson’s Disease now and those bites. Scary for us who like to hike around in the woodsy areas. Sorry to hear about your husband’s uncle. We had a weatherman years ago – Rob Kress, a nice and amiable guy and liked going to northern Michigan. He was bitten by a tick and it was so debilitating he could not get out of bed in the morning as he had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a result of the tick bite. He lost his job and you never hear of him anymore, but he was very very ill and that was many years ago, but he granted a few interviews to the newspaper as he was such a popular media personality. My mom and I were shocked to read his account of the after effect of the tick bites.

        1. I have the same experience with Carole King, whenever I play her “Tapestry” album I recall all the words of every song. 🙂 Probably because I listened to it evey day, several times a day, when a passionate teenager! I never heard about the connection between tick bites and Parkinson’s Disease. My brother-in-law and Tim’s aunt have suffered from Lyme Disease for many years now, probably because they didn’t get the best treatment when they first got it. It seems to have affected their brains, foggy thinking, etc. We never know what life will bring us as the years go on… It’s nice to have musical memories from our teens to cheer us up!

          1. I forgot about Carole King and “Tapestry” – how I loved that album too and played it all the time. Did you see when she got the award at the Kennedy Center Honors evening several years ago? She was just ecstatic and it was on social media because I didn’t see it on TV. Watching the person perform her song (I think Aretha Franklin and “Natural Woman) and her eyes just lit up as she heard the strains of her song. I thought she had a lot of talent too. Those were the days when music was great, tunes were “hummable” and ear worms. The words made sense and even rhymed sometimes and the music has stood the test of time. I used to like to listen to a local station when they went to solid Christmas songs after Halloween, but they mix so many modern songs that are jazzed up or loud, that I only listen if I am next to the buttons to shut it off when it gets too loud! I used to love Neil Diamond and saw him in concert a few times … my mom would hear the music and say “Linda, all of his music sounds the same.” I disagreed, but now, all these years later I have to agree. He is now retired as well.

          2. Yes, I did see that wonderful night for Carole King at the Kennedy Center on TV! There was something special about the music in the 70s and then I stopped following popular music in the 80s — I couldn’t stand it. But then in the 90s I started loving most of the music my kids were listening to. Now that they’ve left home I listen to WMVY radio streaming online, I guess the music would be called adult alternative but it’s my speed. Right now I’m listening to my iPod playlist of winter solstice music. I created it several years ago and it’s got 4 days worth of music, a lot of Celtic harp, classical, and my own mix of non-pop seasonal carols and other stuff. It includes Mary Chapin Carpenter’s and James Taylor’s Christmas albums. I don’t have an iTunes account anymore so I’m stuck with this but I love it every year so far. I put it on shuffle and enjoy…

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