Beethoven’s Sixth, on the Danube

This morning I was woken by the sound of Beethoven’s 6th, the Pastoral Symphony, stealing through the window blind. The morning light was full of tangerine oranges and wispy blues all singing softly, tempting me to dress and climb the stairs. I peeked through the blind, the light stealing my heart leaving me breathless. Shoes, I needed those and pants. I pulled things from the dresser and my suitcase manically. I didn’t want to miss this. Black leather jacket to top the list, black cap on my head and my mother rolling over in bed in protest.

“You’re nuts.”

“Mom, it’s Beethoven. Wake up! Your camera is calling you.”

“It can call me after breakfast.” She closed her eyes and refused to be part of the morning.

The Danube was a dark brown; streaked with white highlights showing the rocks below. Mini-rapids, the place where small fish lose sight of their direction and rise to the surface. Duck weed seems to be more precious that rubies, flocks settle their wings and puff their feathers to keep out the cold. Ducks, swans, geese and cormorants called huskily to each other,”It’s come, fall has come. Look, the ship has stirred the bottom of the river. It’s time to fish.”

Small houses lined the shore, but the water level was four feet lower than it should be. The cormorants squawked and protested the riverboats passing. I was transfixed. The sun had just hinted of its arrival. “Wait for me,” it called. “I won’t be long now.”

Yellow trees stood holding their leaves in protest of the chill. Their stylish coats alternated with the brown of duck blinds and cottages. Fog wound itself out of the ground. The teasing of an orderly morning to come was just the beginning, for the clouds overhead had decided to dress in short swirls and gaudy whites stood out from the early blue sky.

I stalked the elusive photograph, looking for that special moment of perfection. Swans descended from the sky calling the morning hours. Church bells rang the hour in the distance. I could feel Beethoven, see Beethoven, and touch Beethoven. The symphony rose in my heart with the sun. “Believe in me,” the sun sang. “I haven’t forgotten you.” Beethoven would have been amused that an older lady dreamed of watching him walk.

I pass the pilot house where the Captain is at the helm. He is good man, knowledgable of the river, with a crew who seem more a family than employees. I remove my hat and salute him. He waves and smiles at me. The morning is rising, the fog lifts and the reflections on the water are colorful: yellows, greens, browns, and blues. I am overwhelmed. I can see the dreams of those who walked while composing. The music is in my head, I am the only one on deck waltzing to Strauss. The music broadcasts itself through my bones, echoes in my toes, and leads me from port to starboard. I was born to be here, listening and looking.

My camera clicks on its own. The sun is over the woods and the deck of the ship promises coffee. The crew of the ship have finished their morning cup together and head to the galley to feed all of the guests.

I lower the camera and bow to the sun. Tomorrow I will flirt with the clouds, winds, rain, and cold again.

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