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Piano? What Piano? A True Story

November 3, 2020

Perhaps a slightly longish short story?

My husband Gorm and I go for bicycle rides regularly and we have a few favourite routes to take in our beautiful city. We love riding out to UBC and venturing into the woods along a path for a stretch that allows us to feel as though we are far away from any city. We have another loop that takes us down a long street where it feels as though you are riding through a potential movie scene. There are mansions with expansive properties and enormous trees and the occasional peak of a swimming pool through the shrubbery. 

Another bike ride we enjoy, and which involves a bike ride and picnic supper we were doing throughout out the summer and well into September when the days were slightly longer, long enough for the ride, the picnic followed by the ride home again before dark.  This bike ride ends up down at the planetarium and beach where you can look across the water at English Bay or look over at the mountains on the North Shore. You can spot the many boats and yachts and paddle boarders and kayakers and cyclists and flocks of geese and if you are lucky you can watch the sun go down just before making the bike ride home again before dark.

On the Picnic-bike ride you go through one of our city’s old neighborhoods with requisite mansions and picture-perfect landscaping. It is a curving and winding route leading to long downhill glide to the beaches. Getting there is a breeze. Yes, you must make it back up that hill again to go home after the picnic however we have slightly different route with a more gentle clime that takes us home and allows us to see one more vista from up high looking out over West Vancouver.

On a particular corner I noticed one day as we headed to the beach that right in the middle of the enormous property stood a grand piano under cover, set back well within the yard under a protective cover. What a magnificent sight! A few more times as we made that ride, I slowed down to see if the piano was still there. Yes! There it stood under the protective cover. I daydreamed about how wonderful it would be to be a guest of the people who lived there, perhaps to sit and listen to a concert performed in the yard or, to be the person performing in such a dreamlike setting. 

Finally, on one of our rides down to our usual picnic spot we stopped so that I could take a picture or two of the piano still sitting there under cover. I wanted to send my Mom a photo of the piano in the garden. I wanted to capture the image so that I could continue daydreaming about the possibilities of that piano waiting to be played in that gorgeous garden. No one was standing in the yard each time we rode by otherwise I would have mentioned to the owner how enamoured I had become of the beautiful yard with the piano standing and waiting for someone to play it. 

That day a lovely young woman was walking towards us on the sidewalk and she waited for me to take my photo so that we could maintain a safe distance. My husband mentioned to her what I was doing and why I was taking a photo of someone’s yard. At first she didn’t hear him because she had her earbuds in but as she removed them she began to understand and she too became rather enchanted with the view of the grand piano sitting there in the middle of the yard. When I told her that I was particularly thrilled to see a piano in such a habitat because I was a musician. She said that she had been thinking about taking piano lessons again and perhaps some singing lessons and might I know someone who might be available. I told her about my life as a music teacher and we exchanged contact information. We gazed longingly at the piano once again and we chatted awhile and then we parted company. 

The young woman (Susan) was one of my participants in the online song camp that I recently taught and, in the days before that began, she filled me in on part two of the piano story. Susan was out on a similar walk through the neighborhood, heading down towards Kitsilano and the owner was in the yard and she decided to say hello and tell her the story of how the two of us became acquainted all because of her piano in the yard. The owner seemed rather puzzled and she said “oh, you must mean you can hear my kids play the piano on occasion when the windows are open?” Susan said “no I mean the grand piano in your yard” while she pointed toward the piano under cover sitting on the large concrete base. The lady laughed and said “Oh that? That is not a piano! That is our garden table under cover!”

Susan emailed me to fill me on the case of mistaken identity. We both think it has been a wonderful confusion which has had us connect in an unusual way. We plan to meet up outside soon in a park somewhere because we have more things to converse about. Perhaps there will be another sunny day when I can get on my bike and ride past the piano yard to rendezvous with Susan.

My husband and I rode past the house last week and were amused to see that now, where the piano er, table stood is a large shrub in a pot. I did not mistake that for another instrument.

Lastly, I sheepishly looked back two photos I took of the “piano” on my phone. Yes, the photos were taken from a great distance but also yes, when I zoom in, I can see that the legs peaking out from under the protective cover are not piano legs.

The piano photo attached to this story is a photo of a mini piano gifted to me by my friend Andrea.   

Here’s to bike rides and gardens and friendly conversations with strangers!

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