A remarkable day

So much to talk about!  When I awoke this morning I had in mind to cut back.  That was the first of my New Year’s projects to evaporate.  By the time I had eaten my gruel, in fact even before I had finished doing so, I was swept off my feet by an email from Fiona on the Canary Islands. In her inimitable way she bolstered my day with her seemingly inextinquishable energy, affection and positivity.  All that from another side of the North Atlantic Ocean!  And only last evening via FaceTime we had spoken with (and seen) our friends Ian and Pierre in New Zealand for an equally animated and improving discussion from the South Pacific Ocean. Nor can I overlook the first New Year’s Day message and photos from our friends Franz and Liz in Antarctica!  You would think after all that intercontinental sweep there would be very little competition.

The name Islas Canarias is likely derived from the Latin name Canariae Insulae, meaning “Islands of the Dogs”, perhaps because monk seals or sea dogs were abundant, a name that was evidently generalized from the ancient name of one of these islands, Canaria – presumably Gran Canaria. According to the historian Pliny the Elder, the island Canariacontained “vast multitudes of dogs of very large size”. The connection to dogs is retained in their depiction on the islands’ coat-of-arms.

Other theories speculate that the name comes from the Nukkari Berber tribe living in the Moroccan Atlas, named in Roman sources as Canarii, though Pliny again mentions the relation of this term with dogs.

The name of the islands is not derived from the canary bird; rather, the birds are named after the islands.

Late in the morning, approachng the noon hour, when I had only then completed the rigours and protocol of awakening (from what by the way had been an uncommonly pleasant sleep), I glanced longingly at the glowing morning sunshine glinting upon the equable face of the river. It beckoned me with that magic of instant endearment, the music of “Some Enchanted Evening”. I didn’t hesitate.  Donnng my overcoat, an additional silk scarf and woollen gloves, I pushed off to collect my tricycle from the subterranean parking garage.

The instant I ascended from the garage onto the roadway I was in heaven!  The weather was that ideal combination of cool without being cold, dry and bright.  It was not the weather one normally associates with winter in Canada.  In fact it seemed more like a late autumnal day.  The pedestrians and dog walkers along the sidewalk or about the riparian park were clearly as encouraged by the grand weather.

So stimulative was the weather that I was moved to park my tricycle at the front entrance to Fairview Manor and press the black button.  The door opened.  I cautiously entered, looking about to refresh my memory.  There it was!  A piano!  A real piano, not an electric one!  A Yamaha but nonetheless tolerable.  There was an old lady with a mournful look seated not far from the instrument.  I greeted her then seated myself upon the bench of the piano.  I removed my gloves, putting them into the pocket of my jacket which for some reason I did not remove. Clearly I hadn’t anticipated a lingering visit.

It has been a long time since I have played a piano.  I am in these instances reminded of Louis de la Chesnaye Audette, QC OC who, when gracing me with his presence for dinner, would often sit on the ancient mahogany bench before my Steinway salon grand and play some piece of Beethoven or Bach. Inevitably however he was swiftly drawn back unrepentantly to his more toxic whiskey and soda in the drawing room.  My performance today was sadly of similar distinction.  I have never been an especially accomplished pianist but I have always relished the ambition and its exploration and exploitation. My audience of one today was seemingly passably inspired by my playing (I believe I heard some clapping on the other side of the upright piano).

As I commenced my departure from Fairview Manor – it was necessary for one of the nurses to use her key card to open the door – I explained to her in answer to her enquiry that I hadn’t been visiting anyone, just playing the piano (upon which she glibly commented). I added perhaps unnecessarily that in my experience the “elderly” (a category I unwittingly imagined included those under care) enjoy hearing music.  Years ago for example I recall having played the piano at another nursing home (in fact, two) where the result had seemingly been favourable for the residents who (without invitation) began crowding into the room to partake, hear or maybe just to snoop. It is a tragedy of most of these places that the piano is poorly tuned.  Indeed it is a hardship peculiar even to private residences where the piano has been ignored or treated as mere furniture.

Yet all of this was only the beginning!  It yet remained for me to fulfill the return route on my tricycle along the Mississippi River, a passage I augmented by detouring along Martin St S to St Paul St past the outlook which in the summer is ornamented with its pleasing fluttering sails for protection from the direct sunlight. So refreshing was the weather that when I soon arrived at the apartment building where we reside, I turned back once more to complete what Apple Watch cleverly records in my History of Activity as an Outdoor Cycle of 5.89 KM (82 Active Calories, Avg. Heart Rate 87 BPM and Avg. Speed 7.2 KM/H) in addition to an astonishingly accurate map of my exact pattern of movement throughout the neighbourhood.

Stimulated by these successive excesses I returned to the apartment to address what Denis had meanwhile identitifed as duplicity in accounting matters.  Together we consulted upon the subject and agreed the appropriate action had been taken and delivered to our accountants. I then relieved myself of superfluous clothing (jacket, scarf and gloves) and returned to the parking garage to remove my car for its constitutional sojourn to the car wash in Stittsville.

I hadn’t progressed far along the accustomed route before realizing there was an obstruction to Apple Music.  To spare you, dear Reader, the infinite tedium of the matter, I shall comment only that, upon the removal of the Siriux XM subscription, the car no longer connects automatically to its onboard WiFi.  Once connected manually on my iPhone, all was repaired and well (though the actual determination was a moderately painful exercise, one from which I thankfully avoided a lapse into the vernacular).

The ensuing experience – the car wash, the music, the travel along the ribbon of undulating highway among the picturesque farmlands – was nonpareil.  It was one of those remarkable days one hopes will never end.