Ode to Joy

Ode to Joy                                                                By David Wright     Aug. Community Spirit

After a couple days of cross-country travel, we arrived at our grandson’s family home. To our amazement what do we hear filtering through the air, but the opening passage of Beethoven’s, “Ode to Joy”. First, it was just a prevalent hum, but within minutes, out comes the recorder, the green one he uses at music class. He rips through the “Ode” to let us know he had it down. Then, in the next pass, the melodic tune is more emotional. Moved, Grandma excitedly grabbed her flute case and out came the penny whistle. We now had The Ode in harmony and they were both wide-eyed full of themselves.  The kid had taken to classical music.

The repetitious recital lasted about an hour and we remained impressed but, in time, it seemed appropriate to move on. Yes, the kid did know Amazing Grace and Part of Beethoven’s Fur Elise. Fortunately, unlike my own father, when he hums  any musical ditty, everything is in pitch.

Ultimately, as the arrival din settled, the grandkid headed outside, to peruse his garden,   start fires, and climb trees—maybe to relive his ancestor’s Neanderthal past. Anyway, he was outside and away from the disheveled clutter of our arrival at their Colorado home.

As I later wandered outside to learn what the kid had going, it was impossible not to notice his still incessant humming of that same tune as if he were the composer himself trying to bring together the entire piece. Was it possible grandma’s harmony had fertilized this young mind? Going about his day, this tune reverberated quietly throughout the yard.

For the first three days in the house, and even at the local fishing hole, there was this wafting of the German composer’s tune, mostly the “Ode” but sometimes the “Fur Elise.” At times, Grandma was capable of enticing him off to “Amazing Grace” by playing the tune on the flute. In a diversionary tactic, she tried a few Irish laments, but while he had interest, the “Ode to Joy” was ever-present.

We did notice that the tune was mostly hummed while he was in a state of contentment, or at least not at a time when he was frazzled. In a patient way, his parents occasionally reminded him the humming was repetitious and for a few minutes, maybe he could tone it down.  It appeared possible the only thing that would silence the orchestration was his

desire to jabber incessantly on every topic of interest, which mostly included nesting hornets and exploring wasps. Given an idle moment, or the brief tract of silence, he would drift into the incantation.

A few days later, we headed for the mountains where we planned a number of days hiking and fishing—not necessarily in that order. One of the other loves of Jake’s life is fishing and once near the vicinity of some miserable mud hole or great clear lakes, he was rod-in-hand hell bent pursuing the silver darlings. On this day with blonde hair flowing and ratty pole firmly gripped, he was off to water’s edge to rip some fish lips.

On the first lakeside day and after a few minutes of Glen’s instructions, he was on to a leaping trout. In Jake’s chattering fashion, he a

nnounced the action much like a radio announcer so every human and the one moose we saw, could hear the diatribe on how he caught and released the fourteen-inch fish. In time the moment of fishing joy settled and there in the background was the “Ode to Joy” coming through the heavens in his eleven-year-old soprano voice. It was then I realized that maybe Beethoven had hit REAL joy in those music.

I drifted off around the glassy pond seeking my own joy, maybe even singing the “Ode” myself, when I swore I could still hear him humming away across the pond. What an imprint. His mother had told me that during his entire stay in Paris, a few weeks past, he hummed that tune as if Ludwig had channeled him.

The next day was the test in many ways as we headed out to fish the North Platte River close to the Wyoming border. The word was out that there was a mosquito issue on the local rivers. Still, Jake lusted to fish, particularly, he noted, in streams. But, was he going to be able to deal with the difficulty of the river, catch fish, tolerate the ferocious attack bugs and still have joy in his heart enough to hum the “Ode”?

The stream was glorious, kissed by clear water over gravel, the smell of sage whispering through the few cottonwoods and a population of mosquitos never seen in the Amazon, or Alaska combined. Only a population of Blow Flies and Guinea worms could have been worse. We slapped on some repellent and headed out into the water. In the first ten minutes, he never seemed to swat a single bug but fished with intent. To the best of my knowledge, he never had a single strike (he said he did but suspicion was out there). We fished for an intense hour. At one juncture, Glen pointed out that visibly on my back there were over 100 mosquitoes. Jake rambled about, threw his flies, marveled at the presence of hornets and water bugs, quicksand, and the fact there were no fish bitting.

As we stood above the river facing the Never-Summer Range, and surrounded by swarms of blood lusting bugs, I heard it, “The Ode to Joy”.


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