At the Gallery on the Green on the day before the Litchfield Hills Road Race, I saw for sale a walking stick. This stick was different from the run of the mill. It was made of bamboo, painted with a wolf, and had holes drilled in it to make it also a beautiful-sounding transverse wooden flute. I don't play the flute, but I am entranced by things that are a little bit odd (as is my wife -- thus the marriage), and it wasn't expensive, so I picked it up. Ever since, I've been teaching myself how to play it, though I confess to have only risen to the level of "Amazing Grace," and I'm also working diligently on "Scarborough Fair," a tune which sounds absolutely haunting on that instrument. In any event, I'm none too good.
I brought it with me this week, so I could sit at the seashore and imagine playing tunes deeply resonating with the environment (think Paul Winter), while I'm actually struggling through "Mary Had A Little Lamb." Call it my Walter Mitty moment.
Yesterday, Dear Wife and I undertook an hour-long hike across hot and sandy dunes to get to a secluded piece of beach. When we arrived, there were 7 other people and about 100 seals gamboling and feeding about 1/4 mile south of us. We sat down to enjoy the wind and the waves, and every so often, a pod of about 5-6 seals would break off from the main pack and swim north, just past us, along the shoreline.
As the third such group approached us, I had an idea. I picked up my flute, walked to the water's edge, and with the ocean lapping at my feet, I began to play. It was a formless tune, and hampered by my meagre skills. But I focused on the sound of the waves and the feel of the wind, and tried to let those guide my hands.
After a couple of minutes, I saw that the pod of six had grown to 10 or 12, and they were all in a semicircle just offshore, heads out of the water, listening intently to me. I played for a few more minutes, until I felt the tune was somehow finished, and bowed to my audience. They waited a minute more, staring at me intently, then turned north to continue their swim.
I sat back down, and Dear Wife and I enjoyed earth, sea and sky for another hour or so, finally packing up to leave. As we walked north along the beach to get to the access trail, another pod of seals escorted us, swimming alongside as we walked. I couldn't have been more honored if someone had come up to me and asked for an autograph.
There is magic in this world. You only have to look for it.