(Glad to not be) A long way from home

I love this so much! Everything about it.

We have more snow, or rain, or sleet, though at this exact moment it’s just heavy and grey but with a strange winter glow. I was thinking in the night how I love stories with people coming in out of the cold and finding warmth. Everything I’ve been re-reading this past year has been about that–Dickens, Joan Aiken, Anton Checkhov. Travelers finding comfort after wandering in adverse conditions. The contrast makes it delicious, like a hot fudge sundae.

But sometimes people wander with no safe home to go to and no warmth to find, and as a dormouse in human form, I find that frightening and moving, but absolutely fascinating as well. So many examples in blues and bluegrass songs, of poor boys (or girls) a long way from home. Sometimes by choice, sometimes because of injustice or poverty. Sometimes traveling with the wild geese in the west, or riding the rails, as if called to be with them, sometimes wandering from town to town in search of work or shelter.

I was thinking it’s different for women wandering. It’s not expected, it signals some loss of home, some deficiency of character. And such vulnerability. Here are scenes from two beautiful but very heavy wandering women films. I’ll probably talk more about each one of these days:

And just some songs.

Mississippi John Hurt Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor

I’m going up the country, 20 miles more
I’m going up the country by the cold sleet and snow
I’m going up the country by the cold sleet and slow
No telling how much further I may go

John Prine Rocky Mountain Time

And the water taste funny
When you’re far from your home
But it’s only the thirsty
That hunger to roam…

Christ, I’m so mixed up and lonely
I can’t even make friends with my brain
Yeah, I’m too young to be where I’m goin’
But I’m too old to go back again

It was a train that took me away from here
But a train can’t bring me home
What made my dreams so hollow was standing at the depot
With a steeple full of swallows that could never ring the bell
And I’ve come ten thousand miles away, not one thing to show
It was a train that took me away from here
But a train can’t bring me home

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