Spring couldn’t come soon enough. Another cold winter put a delay on the ground breaking, and for a while there, I was nervous that we wouldn’t get any spring at all. Friends began cracking jokes about bypassing summer altogether and heading back into winter, but I just didn’t think that was so funny. It made the top of my head hurt, like it was pressing against a wall that wouldn’t budge.
Week after week as I headed down to Homer to teach, I thought about progress and just how I could make it happen. In this case, I wanted progress in the form of springy, functional bow hands. “Let me see your bow hold.” A hundred times or more I’ve repeated this, whether addressing buckling thumbs, creeping fingers, or pinkies in flight. Each week, I scribbled out a new prescription for finger strokes, pencil pushing, table top tricks and more, hoping to get the bow to spring just right. Were we getting anywhere at all? Every week felt the same, and it made the top of my head hurt, like it was pressing against a wall that wouldn’t budge.
Then, all in one day, the bow hold started coming together and the leaves pushed out of their fuzzy sweaters to take in some sun. Could it be that warmer temperatures had been working underground all along, causing the sap to rise and the motivation to surge? I don’t know. It felt kind of like magic, though. Relief surged through my veins as I traveled home through the green mist.
Around here, spring feels like spontaneous combustion, but I know better; I saw all the little exercises that went into its arrival. Although, I sometimes wonder if these things don’t just happen all on their own at the right time and under the right circumstances. If this is the case, it would save me a headache or two thinking about it.
In a sodden state I lay melting, high up on an overhang. Peering down below, I spied a reflecting pool--an obsidian portal into the conservatory world, beyond which were great teachers and prodigious students and all that is good and ideal. Not that I myself could gain entrance as it were, but if I aimed my drips carefully, my music would then dissolve into theirs. I watched as tiny ripples formed in the looking glass--drip, drip, drip--and hoped that they wouldn't notice. Just in case that sort of thing wasn't allowed.
End of the year recitals come every year, just like birthdays and spring breakup. Each year, I take a deep breath before addressing my audience that’s gathered in the church pews, checking off the familiar faces and noting a couple of new ones. Then, I watch each of my students display what they learned this year.
Afterward, the parents mingle and talk. “We didn’t bring a camera this time. What’s there to take a picture of, anyway? Same photo as last year and the year before.” They laugh, and in return I cock my head with a furrowed brow.
Same? No, I don’t think so. Every year, you could try your best to set up the same photo, but you would only display how things have changed. Line up the people, and you will notice right away the changing fashions, the different hair lengths, maybe a new wrinkle or two, or a pound or two. End of the year recitals are for showing change, not similarity.
I gained another year on May 5th. I try my best not to observe the changes that have taken place on my body over the past year, but I can’t help but sneak back to the closet to try on those pale green pants that are three years old. I look at my reflection in the mirror just to see how they fit. Not bad, not bad--but I think it’s time to move onto a new pair of pants.
But we’ve been waiting for change, haven’t we? We go out every day and glance at the lake to see if it’s finally open. Has the ice gone out? It’s late again this year, isn’t it? I look back through the dates on my photos to compare today with past springs, to see how our progress measures. Johnson lake is thawed at last, so ours is soon to follow.
Then we drive out to the Kasilof river to marvel at the ice that still lies on the shore. Was it like this last year? Remember when you caught that king salmon on May 6th that one year? Now look at the ice, and the quiet river and the lack of fishermen.
There's signs of spring if you look, though. I went to my garden to check. The columbines I planted last year chose to make a return and save me the trouble of planting another row. I stoop down to take a peek at the fresh, tight folds that prepare to replace the musty brown stalks. You’re the same flower from last year, aren’t you? You’ve just been hiding down below, waiting out the weather until it favors your fancy. I’m glad you came back to see me again.
Now I’ll settle down at the coffee shop to try out a present that I received by mail. A fellow v.com member sent me some hand spun balls of yarn and a pair of handmade needles–-happy birthday to me! I plan on making her a hat and mailing it back to her, but first I have to get gauge to see how the stitches will add up. Every ball knits up a little different, you know.
Violinist.com is made possible by...
Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.