Saturday, March 5, 2011

Walking Stories II

Pachelbel's Best Canon
We had spoken English. I had sung the "Star-Spangled Banner." We had lit sparklers. We had eaten cheesburgers and hot dogs. There was nothing left to do to celebrate the 4th of July.

But we didn't feel like breaking up the party just yet. Someone suggested we go sit on the Miroir d'Eau; a reflecting pool across from the Place de la Bourse, one of the most reconized sposts of Bordeaux. I was sure that I had misunderstood. There was normally only an inch of water in the pool, but we still couldn't SIT on it! Apparently, they turn the water off at night (wasteful American thinking).

"You must bring your violin," they said.


"We'll bring the guitar too, and we'll sing!"

I was sure that my classical repetoire didn't contain any their songs. Mais, bon. Oh, well.

It was about midnight as we wandered across the city. Our laughter echoing off the dark buildings and our footsteps clacking on the cobblestones were the only noises. It was warm, but not humid and heavy like summer nights in Kansas. What an odd troop we made! Six guys and me, carrying an uncased guitar and a violin!

This part of the quai along the river Garonne, was customs buildings. They are beautiful warm stone, with grey-blue slate roofs, uniform in height, with funny stone faces, mascarons, carved above door and windows. There's a beautiful fountain of the Three Graces, their arms twined like sisters.

When we arrived, these buildings were lit up. The pink and blue lantern-lights across the street in the river-side gardens glowed. In between, groups of young people sat on the empty square, laughing, singing, drinking and joking. Night had transformed the place where children had splashed and screamed in the afternoon sun, to an outdoor party.

It wasn't long before they wanted me to play something. I played a fiddle tune or two, but it didn't fit with the glorious old buildings or the festive mood of the group. Others heard, though and came over. A Spanish guy asked if he could play the guitar, and then showed us that he really could! A Polish girl with a gypsy scarf around her head listened. The guy with her said he was a music student at the conservatory and asked if he could play my violin. I hestitated a second then said, "Sure."

From the first second that he picked up the bow, I knew this was going to be amazing. His fingers started to vibrato and a familiar air floated on the breeze from the river. Everyone quieted. The Spanish guy began a guitar accompaniment. Pachelbel's Canon.

The Three Graces from the fountain began to dance, the rose lanterns swung gently, the whole world stopped as if, in spinning, she had reached her destination: bring all the right elements together at this magical moment. Pachelbel's Canon in the open air at midnight, in Place de La Bourse, Bordeaux, France.

Have you ever been in a perfect setting? Have you ever written about one? Are some things really too good to be true? Are they true?


  1. lovely! how much fun it would be to have been there in person enjoying this moment with you! thank you for letting me "in on it"!

  2. WOW, how incredible. What an amazing tale. Something that will carry forward wonderful memories.

    Just popped over from Misha's blog, she said to come visit and I see why. Great writing.