Seventy degrees below zero


Pickathon 2009 took place over one of the hottest weekends of the summer. People were hiding under shade structures or in the Galaxy Barn or slipping off to relax under the giant Douglas Firs and maples that surround the Woods Stage.

Drop the temperature 165 degrees. Last week, I was on a plane heading for Berlin by way of Amsterdam. We were zipping along 33,000 feet above the ocean at a smooth 615 mph. The wind was blowing 100 mph and the thermometer read -70 degrees fahrenheit. I pushed play on a recording from one of those summery afternoons and through my headphones I heard the chitter and the chatter of chickadees and songbirds as the Deep Dark Woods quietly launched into the song The Banks of Leopold Canal. I closed my eyes and through the magic of audio, I was instantly back in the still air beneath those trees.


I haven’t read nor asked about the Canadian band’s name, but can only assume it’s borrowed from Robert Frost’s poem Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

all images © Tim LaBarge 2009

Just a few feet away from my spot on that plane, the conditions were unimaginably harsh. But as I drifted in and out of a foggy sleep and the miles clicked off on that long ride to another land, I was in a warm and peaceful place filled with the sweetest sounds of tiny little birds.

1 comment

  1. Primo ~ I’m coming to Pickathon next summer…I need to make it happen. Merry Christmas to everyone!

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