Saturday, January 15, 2011

Stoltzman's Innisfree


I'm grateful to be able to sit amid a flock of Canada geese at lunch time. I'm grateful for my car stereo. I'm grateful I can google (yes I believe it is now a verb) things and people, and learn about them on the computer. Although I prefer the instant gratification of going to a store and being able to walk out with my purchase, I'm grateful I can buy hard-to-find things on Amazon and have them arrive at my mailbox a few days later.
Earlier in the week, before the rain set in, I found out my friends, the Canada Geese, were back near the little pond near my work. At lunch I drove to the spot and settled in. With the window only partially open, I listened to Richard Stoltzman play Mozart's Andante K315 on his clarinet, while I edited my manuscript. It was beautiful, tranquil, lovely. That is, until some predator, probably an eagle, sent the birds flapping into the air in a frenzy of honking terror. Then there was no peace for anyone. I might as well have had heavy metal playing and been setting small houses on fire. It was almost a relief to return to work.Friday, I went to the post office and there it was, my new Stoltzman CD, "Open Sky". I ripped open the package, carefully removed the CD and slipped it into my player. I drove to the "geese" spot, but they were not there, maybe because a red-tailed hawk lorded over the meadow in a naked tree. I'm not really sure the geese would be afraid of the hawk, but the meadow was barren. I'm also not sure the hawk appreciates my music like the geese do, but I set Innisfree on repeat and tortured myself for 45 minutes, watching the hawk and swiping at the tears. It is so very beautiful. I don't know how Stoltzman was able to put so much emotion into his instrument, but I can't listen to it without sobbing. Probably best not to listen to that particular piece while I'm driving. The other music on the CD is lovely, yes, but does not evoke my utter surrender, as Innisfree does.

When I got home Friday evening, I googled Stoltzman, found out he is currently at a well known music conservatory and I sent him an email, thanking him for the perfection of that song and for sharing his gift with us. He'll probably think I am stalking him and delete the email, but Hayward's Daily Review newspaper columnist, Ray Orrock, once said that if someone has touched your life, made it better, you should thank them.

You've no idea how it will affect them, of course, but I know such a simple task can mean a lot to some. On a whim a few years ago, I wrote a thank you note to one of my college instructors years after my degree. I received a letter back from his wife. He was in hospice. She read him the letter, and she didn't know if he understood, but the letter cheered her and renewed her resolve to stay strong for him. He died a few days later and she took my letter to the college newspaper and had them publish it as a tribute to him. I doubt he was well enough to comprehend the letter and, although I thought about it every so often, I never wrote to him until it was too late. I regret that.

If someone had a positive effect on your life, send them a note. It doesn't matter if it was a neighbor, a teacher, a relative, a movie star, or a clarinetist. Do it now, before it is too late.


  1. You're a very nice person. But, I think I already knew that...

    Lovely post, Melanie.

  2. Wendy,

    Thank you. But I think you are very nice. Perhaps that is why I enjoy your blog so much.

  3. I'm sure you'll be hearing from Stoltzman. And the letter to your professor? I believe he heard it. When my Grandfather was in Hospice care and dying, he knew all his grand-daughters were there, I know he knew. I can't explain it, but I know.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I have a few letters to write...thank you for this wonderful post.

  4. Diane

    I hope you are right. I hope he understood. And I'm thrilled you are writing letters. Thanks so much for your comment.


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