Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell

An Open Letter to the Escaped Ferret that Walked Into the Propped-Open Door of Deep Groove Records About 10 Minutes After I Did on Sunday Afternoon

Dear Willow,

We never had a chance to meet formally, so I understand if you don’t remember me. I was the one standing near the back of the store in flip-flops. I know — flip-flops in early March? It seemed crazy to me too, but the weather was so nice on Sunday, I guess it was my way of celebrating. I would have taken advantage by spending time outside like you, but my allergies were a holy terror that afternoon, and sandals were about as adventurous as I was gonna get. Little did I know how adventurous my choice of footwear would turn out to be.

I have to confess, when you scurried up to my (effectively) bare feet, sniffing curiously, I was scared. Really scared. I don’t know much about ferrets, but I do know they bite. I don’t mean to offend; that’s just the reputation your species has picked up over the years. I know, I know, humans are much more dangerous, but you’d just walked in off the street — a complete and utter wild card — and the three quarters of a second you were smelling my right foot seemed more like three quarters of an hour. It felt exactly like when you’re forced to freeze because someone tells you there’s a bee on you, despite the fact that you desperately want to trash around and run in every direction at once.

But I’m not here to make you feel guilty. In fact, with the benefit of hindsight, my fear seems ridiculous. I saw your true feathers 20 or so minutes later, when your worried owner showed up with two friends in tow, sweeping you up in a cloud of red-faced relief and nuzzling you back home to safety. In those heartwarming moments, you seemed like an awesome pet, and I sincerely regret not walking over and petting you, like the nice woman who works behind the counter (and whose tote bag you ended up taking temporary residence inside) was.

Speaking of regrets, I’d like to offer an apology. It’s about my refusal to let you explore Deep Groove’s basement. Do you remember? You were methodically making your way around the store, the wall always on your left-paw side (I’m pretty sure a mathematician would applaud your maze-navigation skills), when some dude wearing sandals in early March shuffled around some boxes to prevent you from going down the stairs. The nerve! But here’s the thing — the nice people at Deep Groove thought it was safer to keep you nearby, and I’m inclined to agree. Hey, I get it. I want to explore down there too! I bet there are some kickass records down there! But we’re not allowed, and that’s that. I don’t mean to suggest that curiosity is a bad thing. It’s a good and powerful instinct. It’s the reason my species has been able to make some amazing scientific advances, like penicillin, superconductivity, and the P’Zone. But curiosity has its limits, and even the bravest among us needs to accept certain limitations.

That said, I can’t end this letter on such a pedantic note. The truth is that I admire your bravery. Your gusto. Your moxy. You turned an open door at your house into an adventure, and in doing so, you made Sunday afternoon a little more exciting for one flip-flop-wearing record shopper. There’s a song on one of the records I ended up buying — Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark — that I’d like to dedicate to you. It’s called “Free Man In Paris,” and it may have been written 40 years ago about a trip Mitchell took with David Geffen, Robbie Robertson and the future Mrs. Robertson, but if anyone knows how “unfettered and alive” truly feels, it’s you, Willow.

Best of luck on all your future scurrying endeavors. I hope our paths cross again.

Joni Mitchell — “Free Man In Paris” [Spotify/iTunes]

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Joni Mitchell

  1. I’m probably never going to love (or even much like) Joni Mitchell – call me a philistine, if it makes you feel better – but I love this post! Well done.

    • Thank you!

      I’m at the beginning of what I’m hoping will be a fulfilling exploration of Mitchell’s stuff. I bought another of her records for $3 yesterday, and am going to see how that goes. She’s one of those people I’ve haven’t connected with strongly, but would really like to. She’s also one of those artists whose songs I connect with better when they’re covered, but I’m hoping that will change (as it has, to some degree, with Springsteen).

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