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Flower Piano

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Friday Slide Show: Flower Piano Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

20 July 2018

Once again we slipped through the fog and into the Botanical Garden to enjoy a little piano music al fresco. But this year was a little different.

We went on the last day. And we got there just as the scheduled performances were ending. So, you might say, we missed it. Except this is San Francisco so the fun was just getting started.

At each piano site we visited (and there are a lot of them), someone was playing. And sometimes accompanied. By some band members or a singer, often just someone else who had wandered by. An impromptu performance.

We heard some Debussy, some Coltrane, some Mendelssohn and a lot of Beatles. Even some edgy modern stuff we didn't recognize.

When one person would finish another would step right up. Some with armfuls of sheet music and some with just a smartphone to display the music. The smartphone was an extra smart approach because it wasn't much bothered by the gusts of wind.

We walked around the Botanical Garden carrying our memory of Mildred and thinking of the little concerts as one big serenade for her.

All ages, too. From the tiniest (in our last shot) to some well-traveled players.

We had the Nikon D200 with us and an 18-200mm Nikkor with no polarizer (no need in the fog). The long lens is a blessing. You can get an intimate shot without annoying your neighbors who came to hear the performance not see it.

We were also carrying something else.

We'd just learned of the death of Mildred, a 101-year-old former Catholic secondary school teacher who was the grandmother of a couple of our nephews. She lived her life in Boston but visited California when her oldest grandson (who happens to also be our nephew) graduated from college. So we got to know her over that happy weekend.

He was the first person in her family to graduate from college. She beamed like a lighthouse all weekend.

His brother wasn't far behind, graduating four years later but by then it was too difficult for her to make the trip across the country.

A few years ago, during their Christmas call to Boston, the boys found out she'd had a stroke. A few weeks later, she moved to a convalescent home where she remained unable to return home. Despite her disability she would go to the rec room and play the piano for everyone every day. She knew the music by heart.

We walked around the Botanical Garden carrying our memory of Mildred and thinking of the little concerts as one big serenade for her. The one empty white piano we came across, bare of sheet music, seemed be playing the role of a riderless horse.

What would she have played on it, we wondered as we wandered away in the fog, a tear unnoticed in the dampness of the day.

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