Back in Red Fork

I got back from my mom and dad’s about an hour ago. The stars were gorgeous on the way home. It had been cloudy all morning, and then as I was leaving Southern Illinois this afternoon, the sun broke through the clouds, and I had a pretty drive home (although I spent a lot of time squinting and trying to leave extra space between my car and the one in front of me as I drove into a Missouri sunset between St. James and Rolla).

By the time I got to St. Robert, it was pretty well dark, and somewhere between Vinita and Tulsa, I glanced up and noticed Orion above me. It made me think of a song we used to sing in sixth grade that went: “Orion is a-rising; you can see his stars a-blazing/In the middle of a clear-eyed country sky.” It was a good song. It was about the environment. We used to sing that and Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” all the time … which is probably another reason I grew up to be a hippie. 🙂

(NOTE: If you surfed in here while searching for “Orion,” please click here to find a recording of the song.)

Somewhere west of St. Louis, I saw a seagull — my second on this trip. I think it had been fishing in a retention pond on the north side of I-44. It came gliding across the highway.

Speaking of seagulls, I saw something interesting a few weeks ago while I was interviewing a guy for an article I was writing. I was talking to the guy who runs the big sewer plant here in Tulsa, and he was showing me the different parts of the system and how they all work. One piece of equipment is a sort of giant paddle submerged in a huge vat of blackwater. The paddle turns, very slowly, to help separate the sediment from the water, or something like that. I don’t remember exactly how it works, but it’s very popular with seagulls. There had to be 50 of them perching on the top of the paddle, riding it around in circles, and scavenging stuff to eat out of the water.

The guy said the gulls mostly eat bits of grease that get in there from people’s dishwater and bits of food floating around from garbage disposals. I always felt vaguely guilty when I used the garbage disposal, like I was depriving my compost pile. But I like seagulls, so if I feed them instead of the compost pile now and then, I think that’s OK. Especially right now, while I am waiting to have a fence installed to keep the dogs out of the garden and the compost pile. They seem to think the compost pile is their personal buffet, and no amount of yelling will convince them otherwise.

I didn’t find much going on in the yard tonight, aside from a dandelion growing next to the house. (No blossoms yet — just leaves.) I expect our honeybees will be out tomorrow. Ron says it is supposed to be 70 degrees. It was warm enough tonight that I didn’t need a coat to go out and putter around the yard.

Hope you’re warm wherever you are.


36 thoughts on “Back in Red Fork”

  1. Hey — I have that Orion song stuck in my head and was wondering if you happened to know the name of it? Just curious. Thanks.

  2. Weird, I was looking for a cd or something of that song and I can’t find any record of it anywhere! We sung it in 6th grade as well and I always loved it.. it had somewhat a sad tone. From what I recall it went like this:

    Orion is arising you can see his stars ablazing in the middle of a clear eyed country sky…
    And its never too surprising that the sky is so amazing way out here where nothing hides it from my eyes..
    and sleeping outside in a bag as a kid
    it seems like the best thing that i ever did
    and chasing the shadows and the tracks in the snow
    don’t you know……….
    the moon is on the wane, and it looks like it might rain, or maybe snow…

    and thats all I remember. 😦

  3. I think the rest is:

    … but how are we to stay here, if there’s no room left to play here
    or to grow, don’t you know, don’t you know

  4. Hey all….

    I’m a Yank living in Australia and my mate was just singing songs via video conf to his little niece living in Oxford UK (isn’t the Internet/Skype cool?) He asked me what songs I sang to my baby sister (ironically named Emily.) This Orion song sprang to my mind and I Googled and found your post.

    More ironic, like Sergio it’s a song I learned in Grade 6 or 7 (I reckon that’s about 1976). His lyrics are spot on…exactly my recollection…and like him, my memory fades at the same place…maybe that’s the end???

    Sadly, I thought of this song a few days ago looking up at a very stary South Pacific sky thinking about news from home….the Amish tragedy…I grew up about 10 miles from there.

    This song needs to be recorded! I’m thinking George Winston on piano? Judy Collins singing?


    Scollay Petry

  5. Hey there:

    I loved that song as a kid! I think I learned it in 4th or 5th grade, in music class – Roosevelt Elementary (mid-to-late 70’s). It has always stayed with me.

    Thanks for the rest of the lyrics guys!

    Yes! I think it would be a great song to be recorded. =)

    San Diego, CA

  6. Amazing that so many people remember that song from the 70’s. I also remember that it was in a movie about some kids trying to save some buffalo from the yearly slaughter. I seem to remember a few of the kids driving a truck out toward the herd directly into the fire from the guns. I could be blending two memories into one.

    “and sleeping outside in a bag as a kid, it seems like the best thing that I ever did” was also one of the lyrics.

  7. I loved that song
    reading this via mobile google
    in the car w my kids
    looking a orion and singing to them
    this is the best christmas ever!

    w love
    northern minnesota

  8. I also learned and sang the Orion song in 4th or 5th grade. I was in Rota, Spain at the time attending David Glasgow Farragut (DGF) Elementary school. It would have been in the mid-70’s. I googled the lyrics and came across this site. I hope I find the rest somewhere. I think of that song every time I look up at the stars. In fact, Orion is about the only constellation I can consistently identify.

  9. Well, I’m new to this site, but I was googling “Orion” and found this page (I was trying to find an MP3 of it or something).
    Anyhow, the lyrics I remember are:

    Orion is arisin’
    I can see his stars ablazing
    In the middle of a clearlit country sky.
    And it’s never too surprising
    That the sky is still amazing
    Way out here where nothing hides it from my eye.

    And sleeping outside in a bag as a kid
    It seems like the best thing that I ever did
    And chasing the shadows and the tracks in the snow,
    Don’t you know?

    The day is getting colder
    And I really start to wonder
    Why we’re clouding all our country skies to gray.
    The world is getting older
    I can hear it in the thunder
    And the rain might come and chase us all away.

    And sleeping outside in a bag as a kid
    It seems like the best thing that I ever did
    And chasing the shadows and the tracks in the snow,
    Don’t you know?

    The moon is on the wane,
    And it looks like it might rain,
    Or even snow.
    And how are we to stay here
    If there’s no room left to play here
    Or to grow?
    Don’t you know?
    Don’t you know?

    I always loved this song, too. Those are they lyrics (as I remember them), so I could be wrong in some parts.


  10. I’m so glad to have found your posts about the Orion song! I, too, sang it in the 6th grade, in 1978, in Fairmount, Indiana. I loved it, and every time my husband and I sit outside at night and see Orion, I think of that song. I could only remember the first few lines, and it was driving me crazy trying to remember the rest of the lyrics! Thanks for helping me remember.

  11. I too sang that somg in 6th grade in the early 80’s. I was pointing out the constellation to my daughter who is in first grade and told her there was an old song about Orion but I could only remember the first line or so. Thanks for posting the lyrics – I’ll forward them to my 6th grade chum.

  12. It’s like finding home to read about other people who feel the way I do about this song– I’ve been looking for the complete lyrics and maybe sheet music for a long time. Anyone know what textbook it came out of, or who wrote it? It came with a bunch of usually dumb recordings of computer-multiplied kids singing the songs int he text, but sometimes there would just be one man’s voice, or one woman’s. This song was sung by the man.

    I went to grade school in Northbrook Il, near Chicago.

  13. I also learned this in school, probably 5th grade. I remember it was in a hard-backed song book with colorful printing on the outside. Some kind of series, I think.

    I loved this song too… the minor key, the images of the bright stars in the dark sky… I’ve thought of this song all over the northern hemisphere.

  14. i also learned this song in the 6th grade chorus, we sang about planets and other things in the night sky, but the song about orion is the one that really caught my eye, i love the lyrics and the tune, is there a name to it though?? i remember singing it all the time, because i remember it sounded so pretty, now whenever i look at the stars, i think of the song, thanks so much for posting the lyrics!
    much love,

  15. I sing this song all of the time! It’s a really calm and gently flowing song. I remember it from 6th grade music class in 1979, Octorara Middle School, Pennsylvania. The book was hardback but I can’t see it but it also had the Blue Tail Fly (Jimmy Crack Corn) song in. The Orion song…I’ve just never been able to forget it. It’s with me always. Thank you Mrs. Johnson!
    Keep Singing

  16. This blog reminds me of the scene in Close Encounters when all these strangers are drawn together by the image of Devil’s Mountain. I thought I was the only one who remembers that song from grade school let alone haunted by it for so many years later. I too was looking for the lyrics.

  17. How funny, I found your post by googling the lyrics. I have the same memories of learning the song in gradeschool in Seattle. Lovely song, amazing that you remember the lyrics so well, and they comport with what I remember too. Thanks!

  18. Thank you too for the lyrics. I personally don’t remember learning the song, but my son who is now 13 used to sing this song which he learned in music class about 4 years ago, and I loved it when he sang it. I googled the lyrics and ran across your post. Thank you again!

  19. Ok, so now I know that I am not alone. Every time I look up at the stars and see Orion, I think of that song. It amazes me that almost 30 years later I remember the words to that song. After reading these entries, I checked my library of books and I actually own one of the old song books with the lyrics and music of this song.

  20. the poster who mentioned “close encounters” hit the nail right on the head. it seems that many of us are in the “orion generation.” if we put our efforts together, we might be able to get an original recording of the song as well as music.

    anyone with lyric, music and recording information for this song, please email me at deltaforce_iktomi(at) i’ve got a spot at my website where i’ve been trying to post/copy/paste much of this information in one spot. i don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, simply to get this out there in a complete form. any help would be appreciated, and if there are any “webmasters” out there, i think that or would be quite appropriate.

    please keep me (and all of us) informed.


    chinook, montana

  21. Fantastic motivation and organization ideas, Ron. I don’t think you’d be stepping on anybody’s toes, and for all of us who want to hear the song again and add it to our iTunes libraries, this is what it’s going to take. I appreciate it. I’m sure we all do.

    Orion Generation is my vote. It puts the name first.

    Chad-Michael Simon
    Toledo, Ohio

  22. Ok, Christina says she has a book with the song in it. Christina, would you please share the name of the book, the title of the song, and the author/composer? Thanks!

  23. Funny, from the 100s of songs we learned when were all so small, that this one could still have such an effect on our lives today! I went to Miller School in Old Bridge, New Jersey, from 1979-1982. Somewhere between 4th and 6th grade i learned this song, and in the last 25+ years, could never forget it. If I recall, it was the last song we sang, in the last music class we had. I too, want to share it with my kids.

  24. I sang it in 6th grade as well… for outdoor ed in 2000. I could never find it until today and I was completely obsessed with it. I was dang near close to writing my own lyrics and I am so glad I came across this site!

  25. I too learned this song at camp in Michigan while in the sixth grade. 30 years have gone by and 15 of them I have been spent singing it as a lul-a-bye to my three daughters. They all know and love it. For us all it seems to be familiar and comforting. Now at middle age, it’s symbolic path through life and aging has my attention once more.

  26. Count me in with those who learned this song in the fourth or fifth grade music class – Chamberlain Elementary School, Charleston WV, circa 1978 – and I loved it! In fact, it crosses my mind every time the constellation Orion catches my eye on ‘clear-eyed’ nights keeping it imprinted in my memory ever since.

  27. Hello there, everyone!

    This was my most favorite song that we sang in grade school as well and I am glad that there are some of you out there that can remember the words. I can only remember some of the tune… Which is sad.

    I sang this song in the 70’s at school and yeah — 30 years later still think of that song.

    In fact, the song so inspired me that I named my son “Orion”. He is going to be 5 in November. Funny he was born in November and that is when the constellation becomes visible in the sky (at least in the northern hemisphere).

    Thanks for sharing, everyone. If anyone can find a recording or the sheet music, whoah! That would be great. I would love to sing it to my son.

    My father also wrote a song for my son, so it has Orion in it as well.

  28. Also, the sheet music is available in the teacher’s edition of Silver Burdett Music, Book 6. You can find copies on eBay, and they’re usually pretty cheap. The composer tells me the version in the book is “dumbed down” from the version he actually wrote, but the version in the book is what your teacher would have used with your class.

  29. I too have been looking for this song forever. I grew up in the mountains of Colorado and lived in a town called Evergreen. In fifth grade Mr. Smith was our music teacher and he would play the piano while we all sang the song. We were singing to a recording so someone did have it out on a record in 1978.
    Having grown up in the mountains and being in touch with so much nature (via mile and a half walks to the bus stop) I am shocked at how much influence the song has had on so many people in so many parts of the country.

  30. Wow! I learned this song in 5th or 6th grade (1973?)in music class at Sandia Girls School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have sung it to my toddlers and it is absolutely a part of my soul. Please, somebody with musical talent, could you please record it so we can all hear it again?

  31. oh by the way I posted on another entry but I might as well say here my age because it’s neat to see where everyone comes from and how old they are that remembers learning this song. I am 28, I was probably 11 or so (5th grade, I think…) and I learned it in elementary school music class, and I live in North Florida.

  32. Haha!! I was just thinking of that song, so I googled it, and ended up here. I too sung that song in music class in 5th or 6th grade (mid 1970s). For the longest time, I thought it was a song my music teacher made up, or at least simply a local song. Apparently, this song is sung (at about the same time in life) in many places around the world.

    As for a commercial artist recording this, I would think someone like Joan Baez would be perfect for this song.

  33. I remember it from my sixth grade song book. One of the standard textbooks. But that was back when public school could afford to have one music teacher and one art teacher, so we had each class one day a week. One person’s version has an extra satnza that did not get printed in our book. I always thought it was John Denver who wrote it. I sang it for entertainment at a camp once as an adult. It has a haunting fifth note (fifth of the eight note scale).

  34. Learned in public school in Easton Pennsylvania (think half way between rural and rust-belt) circa 1978-1979 (5th or 6th grade music education). This was a song I could relate to because I was one of the few kids I knew that spent a lot of time up in the mountains around the Delaware water gap sleeping outside in a bag, before it became a weekend tourist destination for NY city dwellers. Lots of overnighters staring at the stars once the campfire burned to coals and listening to the skunks skirt around the campsite looking for stray marshmallows.

    I didn’t remember the 2nd verse, but the first one and refrain always resonated and still does, and I never forgot the tune.

    “Sleeping outside in a bag as a kid, seemed like the best thing that I ever did” … and still does.

    I lived for those cold June nights ( yeah were too! ) and banked them in my memory to lean on during the psychologically lean times.

    I’m going to cross-post this on one of your other blogs about the song.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s