Serve and Return

You’d think with all the tennis activity practically at our front doorstep (well, actually, just across the laneway from the balcony) I’d have a photo of a tennis court but I don’t.  My preoccupation has been averted from both tennis and golf – which are the two most proximate absorptions of many others in the immediate neighbourhood – by my worship of the Ocean. I never tire of the allure of the sea notwithstanding it is all of 2 kms from here by bicycle (or perhaps as little as 100 yards if I preferred instead to walk to the yacht basin on the other side of our apartment).

Yet my focus in this instance is on the concept of “serve and return” which, although it resounds of tennis, has nothing whatever to do with tennis apart from its metaphorical import. Curiously the analogy arose in the context of a video I watched earlier this morning about rearing children under the age of three years – which you have to admit is for me at least an attachment even more peculiar than tennis or golf. The theory is that children develop most adequately when there is a “back and forth” between them and another human (whether a parent, caregiver, teacher or other children). According to the research it is the reciprocal volley that heightens the involvement and growth without which there is not only less reaction but more importantly an adverse reaction (a sustained toxicity). As you might imagine the principle speaks ill of allowing – or obliging – children to watch inordinate amounts of television notwithstanding the intellectual nutrition of the television show. Speaking for myself I fully understand the concept since from my childhood I have never sustained an interest in television; always my preference is the exchange of ideas with another human. This is not to say I haven’t on occasion derived enormous satisfaction from television – whether news or PBS – but the trump card for me is invariably repartee often to the point of annoyance of others in the room.

I am spirited to observe that music is for me the singular exception to the “serve and return” model.  I can listen to hours of music without either the interference or approbation of another human being.  The same applies to playing the piano which was my source of supreme satisfaction in life (2nd only to You Know Whom). Interestingly today I shared the previously mentioned video with a friend whose daughter is behind a business called “Music Together”.

Music Together

Fun. Fabulous. Uplifting. Magical. These are just a few of the ways that parents describe Music Together. Each week, babies, toddlers, preschoolers, big kids (and the grownups who love them®) gather in indoor, outdoor, and online classrooms all over the world to make music as a community. Offered at more than 3,000 locations and 40 countries, our early childhood music classes give families with children from birth through age 8 the chance to get in touch with their inner musician and connect with other families.

We’re on a mission to make the world a better place by making it more musical™. And you can be part of it by joining one of our music classes in your neighborhood!

It doesn’t surprise me to think at the same moment of the incalculable benefit humans derive from affection with animals.  I have been privileged to know that advantage as well.  Our faithful French bulldog Monroe was very much a part of our life experience together. Herewith a photo of Monroe taken by my niece and goddaughter who parenthetically is a professional photographer. This very desirable image (taken when my niece was exceedingly young) is the only one of any consequence we have of our erstwhile companion.


Post Scriptum

March 1, 2022

Hi Uncle Billy,

Happy belated anniversary to you both!! 26 years is nothing to scoff at and something highly desirable when it comes to affairs of the heart! I’m happy you found each other and are continuing to enjoy each other’s company (the beautiful and snow-free scenery helps too haha!)

We are doing well, and Charlotte has some exciting news to share (I’ll leave that to her to disclose)! We don’t leave “the farm” very often, I sometimes feel like Henry David Thoreau, tucked away in a rustic cabin. Funnily enough, this house was built circa 1850 (and is a log cabin frame) which is around the same time he was at Walden Pond. It’s a welcome refuge and makes me count my blessings, as the horrors of war unfold in the Ukraine.

Charlotte has been busy with public speaking gigs (although her work has been taking a toll on her as it’s heavy subject matter and personal) and I have been focusing on selling wall art through my business in this winter downtime.


As I was writing this I saw an e-transfer come in…the timing seems like I only respond quickly when enticed with cash—but I assure you it’s a coincidence! Thank you, it’s much appreciated! Are you referencing the Monroe photo?