Judy Cook, Folksinger

Until the Black Flies Go

As Sung By Judy Cook

Chorus: Crawlin' on my eyeballs, buzzin' in my ears
Flyin' up my nose, and swimmin' in my tears
I'm stickin' with the lesson that I learnt so long ago
I'm sittin' in the smoke until the black flies go.

Old Ben, he was a trapper on the Cedar River flow
He had a lot of buddies, though you wouldn't think it so
For the scents he used to hide his traps would take away your breath
I've seen him chase off skunks, and gag a 'possum half to death.
When I was just a kid old Ben was my first grown-up friend
Like all his other cronies, I learned quick to stand up-wind
Excepting in the spring, when you could almost stand close-by
'Cause he smelled like grandpa's smokehouse. And one day I asked him why.
He said, "Now son, there's lots of things a woodsman's got to know,
'Cause nature don't forgive you if your wits are too damn slow.
You've got to watch and listen, but I'll tell you, so's you'll know,
I'm sittin' in the smoke until the black flies go."


I've paddled every river from the Salmon to the Schroon
I've climbed the peaks and hiked the bogs in April, May, and June
Through rain and hail and broken bones and beans-cooked-in-a-can
I've survived my own stupidity the best a woodsman can
The North Star tells me where I am as soon as I can see:
"You're in the Adirondacks, and you're lost as you can be."
But I know I'll survive; I'll build a fire and take it slow.
And I'll sit here in the smoke until the black flies go.


I've seen the flatland touristers come up to see the view
With their pills and potions, shots and lotions, beer and Ripple too.
They scratch and swell and call it "hell", but Lord, for all they know
"Forever Wild"'s a motel room that don't have HBO
But gettin' back to nature ain't collecting kitchy cows
It's not bugs upon your windshield, nor the broken-down old house
That you fix up for your weekends with a mortgage that would do
To feed a third-world country for at least a year or two.


But aren't we all confused? It may be life, or just the times
There's stuff a-buzzin' 'round to tangle anybody's mind
It makes you want to scratch and run and weep and beg and shout
And jump into lots of stuff that you'd be better off without
And sometimes, when it gets to me, I think about old Ben
It's not that times were simpler when I knew him way back then
It's just that someone had the sense to say, "Now take it slow,
Come sit here in the smoke until the black flies go."