Saturday, June 1, 2019

The Country Tea Party

Thanks to P. G. Wodehouse, Aunt Agatha has long been my heroine from Bertie Wooster's tome of misadventures. Her real-life twin is a fond acquaintance and former client of mine, Priscilla.  At the Saturday morning Farmer's Market today by the Elizabeth Kelly Library we interrupted our cycling to gaze at the latest produce and to chat with those in attendance. As is not uncommon in an unhurried rural engagement, one thing led to another. Priscilla invited me to scope her Heintzman upright grand piano, a venture I couldn't resist.  I shared with her that I had many years ago attended boarding school with Charlie Heintzman, a descendant of the celebrated Toronto piano manufacturer.

My first grand piano was a Heintzman, a 70-year old relic I purchased from the estate of the widow of Doc Johnston MD, Carleton Place. Reportedly the piano had escaped a house fire but it had been removed by the brigade to a snowbank and liberally doused with water in the middle of winter.  I suspect that was what cracked the harp.  I had it repaired and years later traded it for my Steinway salon L-grand.  Coincidentally the unconfirmed story is that Theodor August Heintzman emigrated from Germany in 1860 with Henry E. Steinway.

After Priscilla gave us the tour of her country residence, she invited me to play the piano. My amateur performance was punctuated with idle discussion among the three of us.  The dogs and other animals were never far removed from the activity and conversation. Later when Priscilla put on the kettle for tea I extended my playing.  Typically of the make, it is a sound instrument.

We are all music lovers so the dialogue quickly led to an examination of opera, liturgical choirs and Cecil Sharp (hitherto unknown to me - much to Priscilla's evident disappointment). Sharp I have since discovered was the founding father of the folk-song revival in England in the early 20th century.

Given Priscilla's buoyant disposition  and ready wit we frequently parried with one another verbally. Our tête-à-tête though affectionate was by no means shallow. We freely delved into the sublime mysteries of life, the dreadful nature of death and the harrowing cost of snow removal.

Life by Ludovico Einaudi

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