Highs and Lows

Recently we had a blistering cold, clear, sunny day. I know, I know, too many adjectives, but sometimes that’s what works best. Unless Dear Reader would prefer the following:

It was a cold day.

Getting on with it… At times in January in our neck of the woods, the mercury drops to minus-ten Celsius and lower. Such was the case on a recent Sunday. My companion and I decided there was nothing for it but to drive out to our favourite cove, where dear friends live in a house they built on the rocks, a house filled with music and books and art and Interesting Things to look at and photograph and exclaim over. In the water nearby, the Resident Seagull paddled around, his impossibly white feathers gleaming in the sun, keeping an eye on the proceedings. A chickadee opined from a nearby tree.

(Friends will know exactly whereof I speak, and most will agree that this is, indeed, one of the loveliest places on Earth. But I won’t reveal it here, for fear that the world will come knocking and spoil the place.)

On the coffee table were books written by Barbara Kingsolver and Linden MacIntyre; a violin sat nearby in its case, surrounded by recorders standing at attention; and a contrabassoon, burnished wood and steel bits and pieces curling over itself, leaned against its stand. Diamond-shaped windows overlooked the cove and beyond to a dark, cold ocean.

Have I mentioned the cold?

Well, it was warm inside. Conversation flowed, stories emerged, and I wandered around photographing things like bottles on windowsills catching the fierce, winter sunlight, and a pot of winter peppers that looked like a lit tree from a distance. Then our hosts introduced us to a real treat, as we listened intently to the Hi-Lo’s, a vocal quartet who made their name in the 1950′s.

Well. A find.

Such great singing, especially the a capella numbers, male voices twining around each other, soaring to impossible highs and lows as they made their way through one fantastic arrangement after another.

Eventually my companion and I pulled ourselves away from our heavenly afternoon. As we drove back to the city along the coast, we wondered why, as the sun was setting, the previously black ocean waters had turned pale blue. Certainly not from warming up.

(PS here’s a rip-roaring sample of the Hi-Lo’s singing “Basin Street Blues.”)

Categories: General.