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Remembering Townes Van Zandt on his Birthday 

I love to wake up listening to my favorite radio host, John Aielli, playing whatever strikes his fancy on Eklektikos, his morning show on Austin’s KUTX. This morning, on his own birthday, John reminded me that today is also the birthday of incomparable, gone-far-too-soon, singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt. I first met Townes on a dark, snowy night eons ago, crammed into a small, warm room with a bunch of other travellers trapped for the night in the tiny town of Raton, New Mexico because Raton Pass was closed until snow plows could clear the way. As we turned the delay into a party, guitars came out and songs were sung, including a haunting homage to the snow around us by a tall, dark-haired, skinny hippie with a shy smile who brushed off our applause. Many years later, at the now defunct Rockne Roadhouse, I heard that same refrain and saw that same tall, skinny songwriter up onstage. I got to hear, and even to hug, Townes for the next fifteen years. I love all his songs but “Snowing on Raton” remains one of my absolute favorites, because it also reminds me that I have found my way home here in the Heart of Texas. Back then, I was looking for my “Home” - crisscrossing the country repeatedly - looking for wherever it was that I belonged, wherever it was that I would find other people like me. Back then, I never dreamed I belonged in Texas. It would take a couple more years, an ice storm in Oklahoma and another road closure, sending me south on I-35 to Austin, to finally get here and realize I was “Home” at last. Finding Townes here too… those memories still bring me to tears. Happy Birthday Townes. May your memory - and your songs - be eternal. By the way, I just checked the weather forecast for Raton. They are expecting “round after round” of snow in the next few days. Here in the Heart of Texas, bluebonnets and other wildflowers are blooming. It has been years since I’ve seen snow.