Thoughts while transporting a timpani

In addition to internally-lit vinyl snowmen ballooning on front porches and yards all around town and the mail people delivering pieces of mail actually addressed by hand, for me a sign that the Christmas season is upon us is that I am driving about with a timpani in the back of my Forester. Timpani–those gorgeous sounding and looking large kettle drums– the rhythmic soul of an orchestra. I’m a violinist, not a timpanist, but I play with the Reading Philharmonic Orchestra, a group of volunteer musicians who give free concerts. We have no budget for instrument or equipment transportation. People just chip in. When we have concerts, someone drives the crates of music about, someone brings the sound equipment, and if someone has a vehicle resembling an SUV, then she must drive one of the timpani. Our timpanist is in his 90s and no longer able to carry them himself. They are ordinarily stored where we rehearse, but those spaces are not accessible except at rehearsal time. So now that we are in concert mode, playing at malls and churches, I carry this drum with me everywhere I go. It’s been my December routine for the last few years. And, oh the places we go–to get a Christmas tree–tree on top, drum inside. Shopping–gifts snuggled in around it. Picture it parked in lots from hither to yon. It bounces over back roads, and every once in a while I hear a resounding bong from the back, protesting a turn too quickly taken. Actually I’m a much more careful and considerate driver with a timpani in tow–“precious cargo”, as my mother-in-law always said when I was driving my little ones around–and that big kettle kind of cuts down on rear visibility, so I challenge no one for that spot in the right lane.
It is covered in a quilt so as not to distract gawkers or tempt those criminally-inclined who will do anything to obtain recyclable copper. We’re a pair for these weeks–me up front singing along to my Christmas CDs, the drum in the back lending a resonance.
19 days and counting. A votre sante, Jane…et tous nos femmes…et tout le monde.

One comment

  1. Jane
    Jane says:

    Merci ma cherie!
    I must tell you that I am greatly relieved. I was driving behind you just the other day, and from the minimal vantage point of my 2CV, I could just make out a huge covered mound through your rear window. I thought you were hauling holiday coal! I am relieved to know I shan’t be receiving any lumps for Christmas…well, at least not from you.

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