The commun columbine is one of my favourite flowers in our garden. Its shape, its colour, its robustness coupled with a delicate form make me look out for it every spring. In traditional herbal medicine the columbine was considered sacred to Venus, and the little poisoner’s manual tells me that all parts of it are poisonous though the dose would have to be very high to be lethal. Anyway, I do not intend to poison anyone. Each time I pass the columbines, I have to look at them. Each time I listen to Max Bruch’s Serenade in A Minor (op. 75), I marvel about the delicacy of the piece and its overall beauty.
There is a wood not far away from our house. Majestic oak trees, slender beeches, occasionally a birch. Towards the end of spring, the leaves form a green canopy and very little light penetrates through it. It gives the wood an eery atmosphere. It is one of the woods I imagined when my grandma told me a good-night story. It is one of the woods I imagined when I was reading the Grimms’ fairy tales or Gautier’s novel “Le Capitaine Fracasse”.
I recently had a road accident. Out of negligence. Nobody was harmed. The material damage was substantial. But what truly hurt me, was the fact that this accident was entirely avoidable. An error of judgment on my side made me loose time and money. I caused damage to a third party. The awareness of my total responsibility made me feel extremely bad. I felt ashamed. And I could not listen to music with pleasure. It felt wrong. I felt not entitled to such an indulgence. It took a while until I truly accepted the consequences of my error. I felt better then. Eventually I was able to listen to music again. Music like Jenö Hubay’s Romantic third violin concerto.
I remember the first warm days of the year: I was anticipating a sunny spring, I looked forward to spend a lot of time outside, I even got the garden furniture ready! April passed with plenty of fair weather, nature exploded in a thousand colours and all looked well. And now – this! First week of May – the Germans call it “Wonnemonat” (month of bliss) – low, grey clouds chasing each other, icy wind gusts, showers that drench you from tip to toe. Dreadful. Of course I knew that the sun would be back, but until then, I settled for a little nostalgia with the German composer Emilie Mayer (1812-1883) and her Piano Quartet No. 1 in E-flat major.