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The Schumann Show

Posted in Adventures With Humans

Klaus, my travel pal

There is Klaus, my little plastic German-made dashboard monkey.  He is in my view while I admire my new windshield wipers. I am parked in town, and the sun is just far enough toward noon, bending in through my front windshield as I face west, that it brings out details in Klaus’s fossil fuel-based coif.  I have an errand to run, but before I turn off the van engine, I hear Robert Schuman’s Symphony Number Three bust out of my speakers. If you told me the title, I might glaze over but my ears recognize the notes, and my heart loves it, a lot. I turn the engine off but keep the key engaged enough so that the radio still works. I am captivated by the sound and I stay seated.
And the show begins: life unfolds in front of me to the most beautiful sounds, uplifting and full. At my left, out of the back door of a restaurant, comes a cook with a stock pot full of whatever. He has no idea that he is part of my unvoiced opera, but plays his part perfectly! He is dressed in a clean, white kitchen shirt. The pot, not nearly as shiny as the cook–has had a spillover at some point in its dutiful existence evidenced by the dark liquid remnant outline that I can see on its side. The cook is not using potholders or holding the handles wound with any kitchen clothes, so I assume that the pot is not terribly hot. He carries the pot to an oil reservoir, lifts the lid, empties the pot and goes back in through the door.
And the symphony…
A postal employee comes out a different back door. She walks to her vehicle, gets a cigarette, lights it, and slowly walks back toward the building. Oh, if she only knew how delightful all of this is! Directly ahead of me, where the employee was, is a ground-level parking lot that extends underneath a bowling alley and to the next cross street. I can see all of the way through this underneathand watch what I can see of a yellow backhoe bend and twist like a beast in a pen. A dump truck drives west along the street to my right, pulls up alongside the beast and after a few minutes, turns and leaves the same way it had come. I don’t know for sure if it took a load of dirt because I could not see. In consideration of the music, I imagine the beast sending a great chunk of a precious stone that it has been guarding for the one that he loves. Or maybe ice cream. Or monkeys. Klaus likes the monkey idea. Whatever it was, the beast rests for the remainder of my time watching. I see the arch of its neck and the somewhat worn iron edges–this is not a new beast. It has seen some of the world, and battled in its own way as we all do. We all do, right?  Or, could the beast be dead? Possibly, but no, not in my story. Let’s have him transform, like the Phoenix. That’s it! There is no death, only transformation, and our beast? He has risen as…a…mighty…um…pigeon. Yes, a pigeon rises up and circles the block corner in all of his…flying rat kind of glory.
And the symphony…
Stop being so hard on pigeons. This one is full of love and tenderness here in our story, so consider him mighty and fine; wings perfect and soft for his task. Fly on, pigeon! Fly on above the bowling alley! Oh the sun through translucent clouds, painted by gods just this morning. Then the clouds pass, heading off to whatever–lunch with a stream somewhere. And on my right, there is an apartment building sitting on the corner. A woman walks out of the front door, stops and looks at her shoes, then turns and goes back into the building. I laugh. This is so much fun!
And the symphony…
A car passes my parking lot from west to east. A bus follows. I listen and I can hear the instruments: the deep bass notes, pizzicato (plucking) and bowing, oboes, French horns, strings, horns, trombones, tympani, and then the woman comes back out of the apartment building. It’s funny because though she had looked at her shoes, the only change I can see is that she is wearing a sun hat. Perhaps her process is to look down to see if she can see her shadow, and if she can, she knows that she needs a hat against the sun. Whatever her deal, she crosses the road and gets into a car parked underneath the bowling alley. I see her remove her hat. She might be the crazy aunt, or the magic fairy in the story. Maybe she’s heading out to make sure the pigeon gets to where he needs to be.
A car drives west, stops, backs into a driveway then drives out back to the east. Has she seen the pigeon?
And the symphony…
I notice the power lines and a transformer high up that looks like an old barbecue, or someone’s tired, luggage. I look in my mirrors and see the trees behind me, and the inside back of my van . I look out and see newly painted parking lines on old asphalt. I see weeds bending in the breeze. In this story, they are the kind chorus–character spectators rejoicing in the beast’s transformation and the departure of the hatted woman!
And the symphony…
Then, I wonder about the musicians I am listening to. What was going on in their lives as they came to play their notes? Was there great joy? Illness? What about birth, death, or was one of the cello’s head-over-heels in love? Could she barely contain herself there in her chair?  I looked down at the canvas of my purse and the weave of the fabric–the stiches holding the zippers in place. My water bottle–who designed that lid, and were they happy? Were they, perhaps, in love with a cellist? What beasts were in their lives? What stories of triumph? What about pigeons?
Finale. It’s over, but in that moment, I love everyone. We are all connected, more than we realize.