Heather Aubrey Lloyd

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It snowed unexpectedly overnight, so this morning was the first taste of that particular winter flavor: budgeting time to clean off the car. I should’ve known. As I lay awake, listening in the dark, it was clear the forecasted rain had too much substance. Few things have gone to plan lately. Maybe I’m finally making it to Massachusetts. The last two months have been dominated by illness and injury - too many emergencies - leaving my autumn heart dazed … still thinking it’s October. 

Today’s 2-Minute Tale

In the modern minstrel tradition, I rent space in a coffeeshop's sunny bay window, borrowing warmth, power outlets and internet. It’s a more-than-suitable cubicle for the unromantic work of music, and I’ve learned to pace a lunchplate for hours if need be. This time, forgetting it’s winter, I run out of hot coffee and sunshine in less than an hour. Preoccupied by my work, I don’t notice until the cold radiating from my terrarium finds thin fingers. 

I am contemplating a second Turkish coffee when a chilly holiday shopper comes in asking for a bathroom. Customers only. As she turns to leave, I ask the counter girl if I can buy another coffee and this lady’s restroom trip. She agrees. That all problems could be solved for $3.89. I wish I hadn’t wanted the coffee, so it could feel a true good deed. 

Nothing is timed quite right, it seems (though the antsy restroom seeker might disagree). Another 10 emails and a hot tea later, I’m thinking how I only just ripped the wraiths of this year’s marigolds from the earth the other day. I typically do this much earlier, scattering the last lush petals into orange pathways across the dirt as early as Halloween. 

But I was just too sick. 

I don’t like the look of them after the freeze sets in, too much like cages made from the lithe bones of birds. Tumbleweeds rooted too well, tortured to remain in place. After harvesting a healthy number of seeds for next season, I added their bodies to the backyard pile I’ve been making a few years now. The severed limbs are much lovelier as a little warren of some kind, and I hope something lives there in winter. I hope something downright nestles. I have found too many cocoons and pupae to bag any leaves in good conscience. My suburban curbs are lined with sacks of them, to be hauled away with whatever creatures they carry. I curse the neighbors for this. I think about cutting them open in the night (the bags, not the neighbors), like slashing tires.

I enjoy returning things to the earth. I dug holes and pushed the fallen leaves inside. There were earthworms, so I grabbed each bare handful of soil as picking up broken glass: My fingers a cage, my grip loose. 

I am struck lately by what little lives we recognize and which we do not: I also buried the stray bodies of invasive lanterflies I killed mercilessly all summer. I turned one dead bumblebee into the soil. I knew him, so I said a few words. No, I checked myself: Rest now, all of you. 

If I must die

let it bring hope

let it be a tale.


I’ve been troubled by these words, as I should be. I can barely read them without crying. They remind me of another story (or is it the same story?) my mind could not outrun.

So, seeds and leaves, friends and enemies … back into the black dirt, cold but not yet frozen. Only the very centers of the flowerpots solidified into unbreakable winter. For this, at least, I was just in time. 


* * *

For all those with nowhere left to run. 


It’s not maybe … I will make it to Massachusetts this weekend for two shows, too long delayed. Let’s make them early in the evenings on Saturday and Sunday. Some songs may be bitter, but sweet treats soften the blow. The trip is also short and sweet, back for a big-deal January show in Frederick, Md.









SAT, DEC. 16



















SUN, DEC. 17











JANUARY 6, 2024



Frederick, MD


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