Sweet Wisteria Music

Merv trimmed the wisteria yesterday here in Philadelphia. As a green climber it is very successful. As a spring bloomer it is not. It has never bloomed. Not once. Not like our New Jersey house.

Our house in New Jersey had a wisteria covered pergola. In the spring the purple blooms would cover the arbor, the walls, the pillars. Over the shared wisteria covered wall was a nunnery. A lovely collection of cheerful giggling women. They would get out of their car laughing, and laugh their way into the house. They would walk, one after another, habits flowing around them, for their afternoon exercise. They would work in their lawn, skirts billowing out, leaves flying in the air.

One beautiful Sunday afternoon we set up our music stands on the pergola. We all pulled our recorders out. Our friend Peter played my bass recorder as I frequently drifted into sounds not unlike cattle calling for their separated calves when I blew into the big wooden instrument. I stuck with an alto recorder. Peter’s wife Beth played her soprano recorder. Merv played his tenor. Merv and Beth and Peter were respectable recorder players. Perhaps I should describe myself as ‘aspirational.’

My Dad was ‘aspirational’ on the bagpipes. Mom had gotten him a set for Christmas one year. She sent for the bagpipes, and she sent for the treacle to…what do you use the treacle for anyway? After supper Dad would wait till the neighbors Tom and Lil were comfortably drinking their evening beer on their screen porch. He would go out to the back yard next to theirs. He would march back and forth more or less on the property line like an authentic piper. He would fill the bags with air like an authentic piper. He would press the bags with his elbow like an authentic piper. Then a sound not unlike cattle calling for their separated calves would emerge. Tom would call over and say “Why don’t you come over here Lee. We will pour you a beer.”

On the simple recorder pieces I could hold my own. We got through Handel’s Water Music. Silence. Relief on my part. And then…applause from over the wall. The Nuns. Beth turned to me and said “Nancy, why don’t I go in and fix you a gin and tonic?”

The New Jersey house was a solid one which was fortunate because we still had a child at home. He had a band, a rock band, that played in the basement. He asked if he could host a “Battle of the Bands” in our living room. Heavy metal, big bass, mournful lyrics, wild drums. He invited all the neighbors personally to the event. The nuns were interested, happy to be asked. They would try to come. The other neighbors too. The evening of the Battle young people poured in from all over. People in support of this band or that band or our youngest’s band. They wore stern, hip, black clothes, rock music aficionados. Alas, the nuns had another event that night. The other neighbors stayed away too. They said they could hear the music quite clearly from the comfort of their own living rooms.

The dawn is lighting up the garden now. Soon we will hear the news from a neighbor’s radio. I think we need some wisteria in our Forestville garden. I remember where the recorders are. I know where the recorder music is. I wonder if I should alert the neighbors?