Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Summer? I think I've brought the Canadian Winter to NZ...

Today started out warm and sunny and promising (and sparked a little bit of dread in my fair skin, knowing  I had a morning of gardening ahead of me). Well, the weather must have been listening to my inner dialogue; after a breakfast of porridge again, I headed outside, and the weather got progressively cloudier. Skye's friend Sylvia came over to spend some time with Finn and do some household cleaning, and Skye left to go grocery shopping. By the time she got back, the sky had completely clouded over, the temperature had dropped 6º, and there was a light mist showering down on me as I methodically pulled up weeds, taking care to unwind the spreading runners from around the stalks of native plants lest I rip them up as well. The weather is still cloudy and rainy, and surprisingly cold... I changed into pants this afternoon, and I half-apologized to Skye for bringing Canada's Winter down with me to normally sunny and warm Hawke's Bay. We almost lit a fire tonight... it's that cold!

Skye insisted I come in from the rain (I actually would prefer to work in the rain over working in the sun!), and she, Finn, Sylvia, and I sat on the back porch and had a cup of tea. Skye was playing a game with her "angel cards"; you draw three cards from a pouch, each with a quality or value written on them. The first one drawn is for you; the second, for your family; and the the third, your mission to spread to the world. New-Agey, to be sure, but I decided to be a good sport and play along. I drew Creativity for myself, Integrity for my family, and Birth for my mission to the world (which as you can imagine just *thrilled* me).

We walked Sylvia back to her car at the church parking lot, and while we were there Skye insisted I sing "The Giving Tree" with the three of them so they could learn the chorus. She also had me play a few songs on the piano, while she and Finn and Sylvia did some sort of interpretive dance behind me.

After lunch I gave Warwick (whom I met two days ago) a call and asked if I could come up and play his 1885 Bechstein. He welcomed me wholeheartedly, and at 12:45pm I found myself inside his and Elizabeth's amazing home; it's over one hundred years old, and has 12-foot wood panelled ceilings! It's exquisitely furnished with a tasteful and homey mix of both older period pieces and more comfortable modern ones. It also has a bathroom that must be made out of a converted bedroom, as one could do a cartwheel in the middle and not hit the claw-foot bathtub on one side or the glassed-in shower on the other!

The Bechstein occupies a place of honour in the living room (I'm sure in a house like this it would more suitably be called the "drawing room"). Warwick has a small library of piano music that he graciously dug out for me, and I amused myself for over four hours sight-reading, improvising (all right, "noodling"),  and also relearning pieces I have played over the years; I muddled my way through two Beethoven sonatas, a Chopin prelude and waltz, a Bach French suite, and sight-read some Andrew Lloyd Webber piano arrangements. The piano was fun to play; it has a beautiful tone, but I found the action a challenge; it reminded me somewhat of my former piano teacher Judith's Baldwin (but only in action, not in tone). I must say, though, the upper register was exceptional; when I played Telemann and Bach the notes were sharp and crystal clear, yet when I played Chopin they were soaring and delicate.

My fingers are somewhat sore now; I haven't played that much in one day since practising for my jury in April! It was such a treat, however. Tomorrow night I am to give a mini "concert" of sorts for Warwick, Elizabeth, Skye, and Finn. "Mini" indeed... I think I will play the Bach French Suite in E and Chopin's "Raindrop" prelude, and maybe a piece or two that I wrote for a little variety. After playing for Skye in the church today, I don't think it will matter what I play, she'll just enjoy the sound of the music. Maybe we could sing Christmas carols!


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