Do you have specific memories of moments of a stunned double take? The kind when your jaw drops, and you blink and pinch yourself and look again? You bet I have, and one of the most curious kinds happened not too long ago.
Quite a few of you might know by now that one of my favorite walking areas is the loop around Waughop Lake. It’s a safe place for one if you are walking alone. But it’s also a peaceful landscape that soothes the mind and inspires. I have plotted more than one of my novel scenes while walking my rounds. But that grayish October day certainly held something extra-special for me.
I had just finished my second loop around the lake and was on my way back to the parking lot by the historical barns. I let my eyes wander, and then it happened. All of the above. Jaw dropped, eyes blinked, pinch in the arm, one more look. It was still there: a piano in the middle of a meadow in the park.
Of course, I thought. A photographer must have used it as a photo prop, as the entrance area to Fort Steilacoom Park has become a much-used backdrop for all kinds of family photographies of late. The fall colors complemented the wood of the instrument beautifully. Imagine somebody leaning on the piano. Sitting at it and playing. But wait – the piano stool was missing. And who would go to the trouble and transport a piano into a meadow? And why was there nobody to guard it? There wasn’t a sign that said “For free” either. Basically, the entire scene looked as surreal as a Dali painting – only without any clock faces melting off branches or giraffes walking past with drawers in their chests.
Who had gone to the trouble and hoisted a piano onto a trailer or truck, and placed it into the park outside the concert season? Who had even made sure that the piano was placed on level ground? Why no piano stool? Questions. Questions. And then it hit me.
Somebody wanted to join the song of Nature with the instrument. Have you ever watched “The Great Gatsby”? The gorgeous version with a very young Mia Farrow and an incredibly handsome Robert Redford? Remember the fantastic music – the Charlestons, ragtimes, tangoes, waltzes? One of the melodies was “Kitten on the Keys” – here’s the soundtrack:
Maybe somebody wanted to share their love for music with … wildlife! Can you imagine how much fun a raccoon would have inspecting the inner life of a piano? It would make it sound like a harp, with its fur brushing against the strings. Woodpeckers would create percussion solos on the wooden corpus – come to think of it: Pianos are counted among percussion instruments anyhow, aren’t they? And then imagine squirrels chasing each other over the keys, creating scales or otherworldly chords. They might even pause for a while, a bit startled, and then find enormous fun in the game. So much better than plain chases through the park meadow. And they know how to put their little hands over their chests, too, which almost looks as if they were bowing like a real pianist after a concert. Little birds might perch on top of the piano singing solos, while an opossum might roll up around the pedals and change the dynamics. Ah, the sounds of Nature on a piano!
Many is the times I have returned to the park since then. The piano is long gone – who knows where?! I still hear its possibilities.
Editor’s Note: Care to read Boyle’s Double Take? Click here.
Joe Boyle, author of the Suburban Times’ column “Westside Story”, and Susanne Bacon, novelist and author of the Suburban Times’ column “Across the Fence”, are sharing their thoughts about a variety of topics in their joint project of double features called “Double Take”. Comments are more than welcome, as they know that the world has more than their two angles – the more the merrier.