Monday, February 16, 2009

Wooden Spoon

I heard a story about Wynton Marsalis playing trumpet in a club where a cell phone went off during his set. The inane jingle caused the phone owner to jump and run from the room. Wynton kept playing, changed the tune, picked out the phone chorus with his horn and spaced the notes and timing so that the offending phone sound was made beautiful with his touch and breath upon the instrument. He finished the riff by looping back to the conclusion of the song he had been playing before interruption. How did he do that? Without missing a beat.
Driving the children to school this morning, I lived a story of my own in which in which sweet sound was missed. "Who did this?" I accused while driving and held a white ceramic canister with lid in view of all the children. The wooden spoon that nested through a loop on the jar was missing. "I had nothing to do with it," said Korrina. "But, I saw you using one of the spoons to eat cereal yesterday," I countered. "It wasn't cereal," she responded. "Juice, you were drinking juice out of the cup with the wooden spoon," I said. My concern was now tangled in the was-it-cereal-or-juice-as-if-that-made-a-difference, corner. I eyed her in the rear view mirrow.
In the precious time for taking our children to school, in those moments of transition from a wonderful weekend to their work day in the classroom, I bleated sour notes and heard myself say; "I bought three of these canisters this weekend and within one day, I discovered one spoon on the porch floor, one spoon in the living room and now two spoons missing. " Other topics bugged me too. "Steve, I don't begrudge you eating a snack but when you open mandarin oranges and eat, the empty can goes into the recycle bin, not the trash can," I said, remembering my retrieval of yet another misplaced disposable.
We were nearing the school. A hasty litany of good sounded tacked on. "Thank you Shammond for cleaning your room. I'm glad you like your new bed Joshua. Thank you Micala for shepherding your sisters to make a piano recital last night at my birthday party. I love you," and they were gone, departing the car and walking up the school steps.
Sweet sound was not made in my car this morning. Mom rattled the cage until I saw snow on the window shield and knew it would be gone in the warming of the morning sun. I noticed six children's faces in the rear view mirror and took a closer look at the children with whom I have been entrusted. It never works with them as audience and me on stage. We make music together.
The wooden spoon was found another day hid beside the porch outside and stuck in a half-eaten jar of dill relish. Who did it did not matter any more. I placed the glass jar in the recyclable bin and returned the wooden spoon to its place with the white ceramic canister. All three spoons accounted for. "Who do you say that I am?" is is a better question than "Who did it?" and makes a melody that will not be interupted nor quit.

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