Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.
Thank you for being here for the first post of Volume III, and the first installment in my new series, Explorations.
In case you missed it, I just wrapped up a two-year, two-volume project — I sent out a recap of Volume II last month.
🎵 This month’s piece is in F major.1
You’ve cut and stacked the wood. You’ve gathered kindling for the fire. You’ve just returned to the warmth of indoors from the cold and darkening forest to find everything you love safe, warm, and dry, all in one place. A hearty stew simmers on the stove; baked apples with cinnamon cool on the table.
I wrote this month’s song specifically for— author, baker, fellow Pacific Northwesterner, and ultimate purveyor of all things cozy.2 Kate writes and shares delectable scenes and recipes from her home kitchen in Washington, and I wanted to write something for her that was warm and inviting — a song that felt like sitting by a fire in a warm kitchen in a moment of stillness and contented quietude, surrounded by loved ones, pets, and books, the aroma of Kate’s pies curling around you and the Pacific Northwest rain lashing against the windows. A scene where woodsmoke silently scents the crisp night air and the only light comes from a couple of low-lit lanterns and the fire.
It took me a while to figure out how I was going to approach this song, mostly because I had gotten myself into a situation where I was writing something for a very talented musician in her own right. It turns out that Kate’s first career was as a professional pianist — an accompanist, coach, and teacher. She performed and toured with a tango group, which, she told me, “just might be the most difficult form of music I’ve ever played.” And, although Kate went to music school, she says that, in the end, it was “baking, and specifically pie, that knocked on my door.”
Kate’s work is focused on “hearth and home, baking and cooking, walks and biking, your garden and chickens, and a simple life in the Pacific Northwest.” I hope this song gets close to honoring that vision. I turned to the guitar for this one, mostly for its warmth, and I want to thank my good friend and incredible producer/engineer Kevin Butler for graciously advising me on guitar mic techniques.
📷 This month’s photo was taken on film on Mt. Hood in Oregon.3
I snapped this sitting hearthside in a cabin in the woods on a rainy afternoon, looking out at the forest path I had just been walking before going inside to get warm.
I invite you to sit with this month’s song, photo, and poem and make them a small part of your day, whether that’s your morning ritual, afternoon break, or your evening wind-down.
As always, if you feel like it, let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you again for being here.
The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
🔈 A reading (by me):
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Fortune by Midlake (Listen)
🎧 I put all the songs shared in the newsletter into this Spotify playlist
This video poem from Seven Senses, a project of. I wrote a haunting little piece of music for it.4 Give it a watch/listen:
See the full post here:
The stunning photography of’s A Quiet Moment:
A note for any baking enthusiasts here: Kate offers a range of baking workshops and classes, and her next one is happening on December 10 — participants will be learning how to make a Peanut Butter Chocolate Layer Pie. Check it out below!
Hearthside in F major, for twelve instruments / Written, performed, and produced by Fog Chaser
Kate McDermott has written three best-selling and critically-acclaimed cookbooks with personal narrative essays; the James Beard-nominated Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Crusts, Fillings and Life (2016), Home Cooking with Kate McDermott (2018), and Pie Camp: The Skills You Need to Make Any Pie You Want (2020). She writes Kate McDermott’s Newsletter.
Looking Out / 35mm film (Fujifilm Superia / ISO 400) / Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon