Thursday, July 22, 2010

Not-So-Silent Afternoon

I like incongruous stories . . . you like incongruous stories.
Have you a spare moment, because I think you'll enjoy this one?

It has been so hot lately, so overwhelmingly hot. On account of this Chloe and I have only visited the garden in the early morning and late afternoon. At both these periods, when the sun is low in the sky, the shady places are welcoming and the scent of the flowers can be fully appreciated.

As the shadows lengthened the other afternoon, we went down to visit the garden. After Chloe had enjoyed an enthusiastic fly-hunt on the lawn, we settled by the pond. Sitting there, cooled by a slight breeze and with no sound but the gentle patter of the fountain, it was blissfully tranquil.
Well . . . tranquil, that is, if you take into account Chloe's devious efforts to jump into the water, each of which I luckily managed to thwart!

Relaxed and happy, I was startled to hear some unexpected music.
Was I imagining it . . . ? No, it was the unmistakable and surprising sound of someone singing.
Floating down from one of the open windows above, and clearly discernible to anyone
in the garden below, came an unaccompanied male voice . . . a pleasing and melodic voice. The singer himself was hidden in the shadows of the room, but his voice joined me by the pond.
And what had this hidden vocalist chosen to sing on a hot, midsummer afternoon?
You'll never believe it . . . I couldn't believe it. . . but there was no mistaking the familiar words and music of 'Silent Night'!

Can you think of anything more bizarre, more incongruous, yet at the same time more delightful, than sitting in a garden in a July heat-wave charmed and refreshed by the melodious strains of 'Silent Night'?

The unknown singer gave his all. He sang the carol with care and feeling from beginning to end . . . then, after a slight pause, went back to the beginning and sang it again!

And why not, I was beginning to ask myself, lulled and seduced by the singing? There are silent nights in the middle of summer, and this unexpected music only enhanced what was, in essence, a deeply tranquil late afternoon.

One of the many delightful things about this story is that it leaves so many unanswered questions. Who was singing . . . why was he singing . . . could this unknown singer have had a crowded autumn schedule and been anxious to fit in a rehearsal, a very early rehearsal, for a Christmas concert?
None of that matters. What does matter is that, intentionally or unintentionally, he bestowed on anyone listening a moment of pure delight.

So, come mid-winter, when there's carol-singing round the crib, I'll give you no prize for guessing where my mind will travel.
That's right . . . I'll be down by the pond on a hot, July afternoon, magically restored and refreshed by the unforgetable strains of 'Silent Night'!