Jazz in the Garden

September 8, 2020

Summer 2020 has been a very different summer than most! (I know that is the case for everyone) This is the first summer in so many years that I have been home in Vancouver for the entire summer. Typically, I am away teaching at various music camps during the summer months. Since I have been at home, I have been able to devote some time to gardening. It is a small and what I would call “humble” garden. It contains mostly flowers and herbs and one large breezy Japanese Maple.

This summer I have been able to watch the sweet pea seeds that I have sown have an entire lifespan before my eyes. My coaxing and nurturing (and the sun!) have enabled those sweet peas to flourish and bloom, bloom, bloom.  I adore their gorgeous scent and silky colourful flowers. Now, I am still watching and coaxing 4 sunflowers that I started in early June. They are tall and the flowers are just beginning to form. They are late bloomers around here because I see many sunflowers around the city that have reached their peak and are already hanging their heavy heads.

I noticed something else in my gardening activity this year. It is a silent activity. **Note. I tend to be a loud person who (accidentally) uses too many decibels when I speak.  My husband will gently say “I am right here” not in an admonishing way but rather reminding me that I will still be heard at a slightly lesser decibel level. I get excited and my decibel level goes up and so does my tempo. Still, I do need and appreciate and crave silence in my life as well. So much happens within silence! Creative thoughts. Problems solved. Relaxation achieved. Observations. Awareness. New ideas.

The only sounds I hear as I am out in the garden on most days are the chickadees, the hummingbirds, and the bumblebees if I am lucky. I may hear the neighbor’s children playing on the other side of the fence and that is a pleasant sound as well. Yes, there is the sound of city traffic just a block away but when I am “involved” with the plants and the soil that almost disappears. Mostly, I am listening and observing, and I am not the one making sound.

This is interesting to me since I am a musician and (I think) that part of our job as musicians is the making of sound while the other important aspect of our job is to maintain an active silence. I know this to be true, but gardening is another reminder.

Speaking of the garden and music, since all my gigs were cancelled due to the pandemic, in August I decided to perform a small Jazz in the Garden concert with brilliant pianist Chris Gestrin. The back deck became a stage and the audience sat down below within the garden, safely distanced apart from each other. This was a wonderful experience for me, (hopefully for Chris too) and I think the audience enjoyed themselves as well. For some attendees this was the first live performance they attended since the pandemic began. For me, it was my first gig since February. Yes!

*photo of Karin and Chris on “stage” by Vincent Lim

At the end of September, I am going to do another “Jazz in the Garden” concert. In fact, I will be doing two concerts with exceptional ukulele player/guitarist/vocalist Guido Heistek. I am hoping that some of my autumn blooming flowers will hang in there for that concert and of course I am hoping for a sunny and warm September afternoon. I am fortunate to be able to perform in this personal way right within our own garden to a purposefully small physically distanced audience.

Good night garden. Good night everyone. Have a wonderful September!


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