• edwsheehy

Oakwood -- The Story

Oakwood – The Story

It was late 1975…Christi and I had married that spring and after a summer of Island work and play we spent a number of weeks roaming the west. We returned and soon moved to Madison, where we took up residence at a brand new “retirement center” on the West Side. It was called Oakwood, presumably because it was nestled into a fine oak grove. They called the two of us the “Maintenance and Housekeeping Departments.” We worked hard and as yet had few friends, so much time was spent either outside walking or, for me, walking the roof of the 7 story complex, which afforded a view not only of Madison but west into the sunset, all the way to Blue Mound on a clear day.

A year in the woods… Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer. The song begins in October simply because that’s when our year there had begun. It’s not really a story but a recitation, an observation of the things we see around us, the counting off of the days and months as they pass. The inevitable joy of each season’s arrival gives way to its wistful goodbye.

This song features two key players: Rose Hansen Widmann sings the counter melody, and August Sheehy nails the bass. When I sent it to August I told him that there were some extended measures in between each verse and that he should take the lead in those spots. His tone sets the contemplative mood in a way I never could – you’ll see what I mean.

Oak Wood

Two weeks before it was due November came early

Two weeks before I was ready to call it a year

The woods are deserted there isn’t a sound

But an ‘cassional jay or a squirrel on the ground

In spite of my efforts to keep it away winter’s here


It’s a lovely little play, this turn of the seasons

Every day is a scene in an unending show

Evening glides into nighttime, morning becomes day

It’s a lovely little play

I can measure the time of a Wisconsin winter

By the gallons of coffee and many stories I’ve heard

But as soon as that first early thaw takes hold

The snow turns brown by the side of the road

I’m lying in wait for the sound of that first traveling bird

Alternate Chorus

Turn another page and change the scenery

Everybody waiting

Where did it go…

Evening glides into nighttime, morning becomes day

It’s a lovely little play

Like a child you’re with every day so you don’t see her growing

Until one day you notice the change and it blows you away

The summer was born in the puddles of spring

And arrived fully grown on a butterfly wing

You knew it was coming but you’re surprised anyway


The longer the days the longer the sunset will linger

Then the Perseids come to put on their annual show

The catfish are jumping the cotton is high

Georgia O’Keefe is still painting that sky

It won’t last much longer as if you didn’t know


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