I wasn’t expecting that!

Where to begin!  Such unbargained for and unabridged expressions of well-being, magnanimity, providence, rich humour and artistry! A vertiable wholesome conglomerate of adventitious disconnected and disassociated events. And all with reciprocal assembly.

It began earlier this morning when a dear friend gushed noticeably (and quite purposively I am certain) for having been remembered on her special day. While I initiallly dismissed the utterance as a pleasantry, upon subsequent reflection I acknowledged the strength of what she had said.  I too might appreciate being remembered.  But before I had the opportunity to test the prediction (and possibly to my unfolding disappointment) I distracted myself from the brooding by embracing what little forward thinking already percolated within me on this grey, cool day by the sea on Hilton Head Island. That is, the practical though critical resolve to get the car washed.

This concession to reviving habit was less indifferent than might first appear. A hurried glance at the weather App on my iPhone 13 revealed a “Chance of light rain in the next hour” and subsequently throughout the day.  So while my devotion to a clean car was by some standard warranted (there is always pollen at this time of year) the pursuit bordered on superfluous. What however more successfully contaminated my withdrawal from abatement of obsessive routine was not pollution of the car; rather the surpassing concession that yesterday I had bicycled sufficiently to have adequately abused my weakened knees and limbs for the moment.  A day’s rest was accordingly in order.  And thus – by reason of default if no other – I was both entitled and encouraged to go for a drive (during which I might usefully investigate the operation of the car wash).  Furthermore it would get me out of the apartment and grant me the inexpressible levity of unwarranted enterprise (that privilege of old age and irrepressible toxin to the Puritan Work Ethic).

Thus began my sparingly ornamented venture today.  The passage through Sea Pines was predominantly uneventful, winding and twisting in the usual manner but its regularity was welcome. The traffic appeared somewhat subdued for a Saturday but I reasoned the swell of incoming vagabonds hadn’t yet arrived. At the car wash, there was moderate activity.  Still no rain. I managed with passable alacrity to vacuum the front mats. Going through the wash was accomplished without delay. I took the standard route back to the apartment along Greenwood Drive to Lighthouse Road then along South Sea Pines Drive to South Beach Club. Importantly the journey was enhanced by Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, also known as the Tallis Fantasia, is a one-movement work for string orchestra by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The theme is by the 16th-century English composer Thomas Tallis. The Fantasia was first performed at Gloucester Cathedral as part of the 1910 Three Choirs Festival, and has entered the orchestral repertoire, with frequent concert performances and recordings by conductors and orchestras of various countries.

Vaughan Williams did not achieve wide recognition early in his career as a composer, but by 1910, in his late thirties, he was gaining a reputation. In that year the Three Choirs Festival commissioned a work from him, to be premiered in Gloucester Cathedral; this represented a considerable boost to his standing. He composed what his biographer James Day calls “unquestionably the first work by Vaughan Williams that is recognizably and unmistakably his and no one else’s”. It is based on a tune by the 16th-century English composer Thomas Tallis, which Vaughan Williams had come across while editing the English Hymnal, published in 1906. Vaughan Williams conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in the first performance of the Fantasia, as the first part of a concert in Gloucester Cathedral on 6 September 1910, followed by Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, conducted by its composer.

Upon arriving at the apartment I dutifully checked my email.  A long-time friend (and a fellow writer by hobby) wrote to comment upon a piece I had recently published on Substack. In addition to speaking favourably about what I had written (or perhaps it was the mere acknowledgement of having done so, it doesn’t matter) he punctuated his own observations by candidly addressing the mounting consequences of aging. I will not repeat what exactly he said for fear of misrepresenting his precise terminology or manner of expression, but his honest and straightforward way was illustrative of his equally renowned libidinous character. In all his intelligence fomented a colourful tincture to this otherwise dull day. And he reported proudly upon the recent success of his par amour in what I believe to be a significant historic undertaking; namely, her official admission to the Cree ancestry of Canada.

The Cree are a North American Indigenous people. They live primarily in Canada, where they form one of the country’s largest First Nations. In Canada, over 350,000 people are Cree or have Cree ancestry. The major proportion of Cree in Canada live north and west of Lake Superior, in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the Northwest Territories. About 27,000 live in Quebec. In the United States, Cree people historically lived from Lake Superior westward. Today, they live mostly in Montana, where they share the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation with Ojibwe (Chippewa) people. The documented westward migration over time has been strongly associated with their roles as traders and hunters in the North American fur trade.

Then immediately on the heels of this unsurpassable event I received another email from another writer/friend who shared with me a restorative moment (quite literally) which she and her husband had experienced while lounging in their home. The derivative was once again an unforeseen buoyancy.

Photo by Hirst®

Lest I seem lost in the clouds I will bring things back to earth by reporting as well that the black chilled coffee and Canadian cheddar cheese afforded a very compatible and healthful addition to my hitherto prosaic day. Though I hasten to observe my continued marvel at the serendipity!