Woolly worms are crossing the roads. My first year in the mountains Tom Pruitt told me the lore of the woolly worm, making certain I didn't think he believed any of it, just telling me what he's been told some people believe. Black at front and back and orange in the middle. The amount of black in the front told how long the first part of winter would be, then the orange is the mild spell in the middle of winter, how long it will last, then the black at the end tells the last part of winter. Already, I didn't believe it, because I'd never seen two alike. How do you choose the one to go by? This year all I've seen crossing the roads is solid black ones, which I would interpret to mean a long winter of steady cold like last winter. Having already said I don't believe it, I do find it interesting the woolly worms over the last few years seem to be more and more solid black. Don't take this for a face. I've not done a scientific study, just drive-bys, sometimes rolling a tire over one, sometimes not. I try to avoid them, but sometimes see one roll up into a fuzzy marble in the rearview mirror.
My friends Lucas and Judy Carpenter arrived Friday for the weekend. The leaves started turning that night. Then the next night more, and by the time they left today the mountains were almost in full color. It's an unnatural turning according to what I've seen over the years. We have not had a night below freezing. I was told in biology class that a membrane where the stem of the leaf joins the branch closes after a freeze, the leaf gets no more nutrients and dies, changing colors along the way from vibrant green living leaf to dried paper on the forest floor, nutrients for the roots next year after they dissolve into the soil after rain and snow. Talking with Jack Nichols today, he said it's so dry the leaves died from lack of rain. That's what I see the leaves doing, just dying. They curl up and turn brown after one or two days of color. Curious. Every Fall season is different like every winter is unique to itself, like every Summer and Spring. I've never seen this before. I suspect Jack has seen it before.
Uploaded 16 videos of Skeeter and the Skidmarks' show last Friday night. It took until today. I wasn't home much, in and out. In, I'd set one to uploading and leave, come back and start another one going. That was every one I'd recorded. I started at the beginning and kept on going. Everything they did was dynamic. They had the groove. They were flowing with each other musically and flowing with the audience too. Their groove encompassed the whole place, everyone concerned. During a couple of them, I remember Whiskey Before Breakfast being one of them, I started grooving through the camera, moving in a flow with the music. Sometimes I like to move the camera around while the music is going. Including the heads of the audience is the best learning I think I've had from the experience. It seems to add to the spontaneity of the moment. The 17th one was Dori's Work Song, put up last so it would be at the top of the list.
As usual, I was grateful for the opportunity to archive almost an entire show of Skeeter and the Skidmarks in the time they're preparing their 3rd cd 15 years after the 2nd. Their first round of playing a few months ago at the Front Porch, they were mighty good, but this time they were on top of it. They were feeling good together and the music was flowing. I wanted to get the entire show, but needed some still shots and a bit of rest for my arms. I'm better now at holding the camera still than I used to be. I don't want to hold it too still, however. I like movement of the camera. Makes the video feel alive, like it's a living eye seeing through it, which is indeed the case. I love this inadvertent role as video recorder of some of the best music going on in SW Virginia. I like things that just happen like this die. It just happened. I had no dream, no ambition to do such a thing. Never entered my mind until I did it. That tells me it's in the flow, that I'm in my flow. That's where I want to be.