Story, December 15, 2012

The Town Hall

New York, NY

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I once spent Christmas alone in a cabin in the woods just to see what it was like — I was 18, the age when a person is likely to do something like that— I wasn't depressed, I was just under the influence of Thoreau's Walden. So I did. My mother begged me not to do it, which was gratifying— if she hadn't begged me to stay, I probably would have. I had a can of Spam, some crackers, tea, a chunk of cheddar. The cabin was out along the St. Croix River. It belonged to a neighbor who had gone to Florida and who asked me to look after it. A little white frame shack. It was freezing cold, I lit a fire in the stove, I turned on a transistor radio, I looked out across a snowy meadow to a dense woods, birds and maple and old oak,the river in a gorge below, and listened to Christmas music ----


I sort of expected profound thoughts to come, and they did not, except that I noticed that time moves slowly when you're alone in the woods. So I wrote that down on a pad of paper. Then my girlfriend Corinne came over. I had told her I was going to spend the day alone in the woods and I was hoping she'd come and there she was. I don't think Thoreau had a girlfriend but I wasn't sure I did either because she brought her friend Christine with her, so that kind of changed the dynamic. There was so much I couldn't say, so we sat and listened to Christmas songs on the radio.


Got home not long after dark and they were glad to see me. They had saved turkey and dressing. We played Chinese checkers and my mother and I did dishes and she was about to ask me whether I was alone or if I had visitors at the cabin and then another song came on the radio and interrupted her.


Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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