Sunday, January 19, 2014

Water Music

Sorting and filing color slides was never my favorite activity; especially since I don't do it very often and it gets ahead of me.  Let’s be honest about it: I hadn't done it for about 20 years and it was really ahead of me.  However, the digital age was upon me and I really wanted to scan the (no kidding) five or six thousand color slides then residing in various cassettes, notebooks and boxes.  It took me about a year and a half to do.

It was sad to see how much many of the vintage slides have faded.  If only I had stuck to Kodachrome.  If only Kodak had stuck to Kodachrome.

There is nothing like a photograph to bring back a rush of memories.  Most of these slides were family snapshots and it was fun to see my children, now all grown, at age five or so splashing in the Hoh river.  Among the small fraction that were not family snapshots was a still-bright slide featuring the Fremont Bridge yawning open into a genuine pacific northwest azure sky for us to pass.  Handel’s “Water Music” floods into my mind and I don’t need a slide to see Louis, baton flailing and hair flying.  The chamber orchestra was new then and full of vigor – just as baroque music is supposed to be. 

Bob’s wife was on their fledgling board and invited us to come on their water music cruise and fund-raiser – me to take color slides for their publicity.  Most of the slides I took (all of the best ones) went to the orchestra but a few of out-takes were still in my hoard. 

The pre-restoration mosquito fleet steamship Virginia V pulled away from fishermens’ terminal and took a right into the ship canal towards Lake Union, orchestra playing lustily in the main salon, polished brass whistle commanding the Ballard bridge, the Fremont bridge, the University bridge to open before us, moustachioed captain at the wheel, sun pouring down on the Texas deck where I stood next to the wheelhouse blissfully going into sensory overload. 

Fast forward to early fall of that year; fund-raising successful and we were invited to a celebratory party.  The site was Bob’s A-frame cabin on a steep slope somewhere in the Issaquah Alps.  Built on the cheap as a weekend cabin he bought it in bad need of repair and worked his usual miracle on it; kitchen and living area with sleeping loft above; bathroom below the kitchen along with a soundproof room for the generator that ran the pump and the stereo; a circular stair made by his madman Mexican iron-wright replaced the ladder to the loft; and a wood-fired hot tub just off the deck that he wrapped around three sides of the cabin.

The cast of characters was most of the orchestra and (less Bob’s by then ex-wife) their board, Bob, his girl-friend Suzie, and a gaggle of hangers-on like us who had helped with the fund-raising.  Virginia brought her two-manual harpsichord and we schlepped it up the slope to the cabin where she was cheerfully tuning it.  I brought my projector and had the slides from the cruise running continuously. 

It was another sun-drenched afternoon.  Bob scored several cases of just-ripe beaujolais that tasted like drinking sunshine.  Lots of people brought cheese and bread.  No color slides are needed to recall semi-clad (well, some of them were semi-clad) figures dashing to and from the hot tub or Suzie, Vernal, a couple of musicians and I, all half drunk on music and sunshine -- the other half on beaujolais -- lying in the meadow while the swallows darted above us.  At dusk winding up with the entire mob in the cabin while Virginia played the cadenza from the 5th Brandenburg concerto with me and two others sitting under the harpsichord. 

Louis has left for other musical pastures, Suzie dropped out of sight when she and Bob split up, Vernal is dead.  The orchestra is well established and, well, a bit staid – as am I.