All is Quiet

The COVID-19 Chapter, “At Home”. DAY 2

I’ve had a happy little tune in my head all day. All day. I think it was there subconsciously until just before dinner. When I pulled it out from the fog, and began humming it out loud, I realized what it was, and why it popped into my head.

My brain has been playing Peter’s Theme, from Peter and the Wolf, on a loop since morning. It’s a jaunty little tune, lilting and easy. Think, strolling through a meadow on a bright, sunny day – butterflies swirling about, not a care in the world. It’s a tune I’ve known since I was a very young girl, and the simplicity and nostalgia of it always gives me peace.

Music can speak to me more deeply than anything, beyond what words can capture. It’s difficult to roll all the warm memories, all the happy thoughts, all the feelings of contentedness and security into a sentence or paragraph – but this little fragment of a tune that represents the character of Peter nails it for me, in an instant.

Now, if you aren’t familiar with the story of Peter and the Wolf, it’s worth the 15 or so minutes of your day (especially these days, as you likely have some time on your hands), to give a listen. A symphonic fairy tale, written by Sergei Prokofiev, Peter and the Wolf is a simple telling of an afternoon on the farm. The cast of characters: Peter, Bird, Duck, Cat, Wolf, the Hunters, and Grandfather. The story is told by The Narrator, and each character is represented by an instrument, or section of the orchestra. While there are various recordings easily found, don’t you want to listen to David Bowie’s voice, frozen in time, as storyteller – accompanied by The Philadelphia Orchestra led by Eugene Ormandy? Of course you do.

So the Narrator sets the stage, and as you can imagine, it’s a beautiful day. Peter is without a care, and feeling every bit of himself. Duck is swimmin’ around, Cat is hanging out, Bird is tweeting her joyful tweets, and in an echo of sublime security, she perches on her branch saying, “All is quiet – All is quiet!” It’s as idyllic as it gets. It’s a moment you want to soak up forever. Not a cloud in the sky, no Cat or Wolf to break her little Birdy stride. It’s perfect.

But darkness looms.

It wouldn’t be a good story if everything stayed sunny, would it? <Total plot spoiler> Some prit-ty bad stuff happens in this innocent little child’s tale. Let’s just say, the duck doesn’t make out so good. And that wolf? That wolf is MENACING. I could go on… Grandfather tried to warn them all – and the Hunters, they wanted to blow that wolf UP. Peter and the Bird end up being the heroes when they save the killer wolf with the duck in his belly, and they all march in a procession with everyone to the zoo, which is kind of weird. Anyhow, there are all KINDS of parallels jumping out at me. You can draw it down, if you really want to go there.

But bringing it home for MY story – today had a certain “All is Quiet” kind of feeling. Not really that happy and peaceful Quiet – but more the calm before the storm kind of Quiet. And I kept hearing that tune, and David Bowie’s Bird voice taunting me with “All is Quiet, All is Quiet”. And yet, I know how this goes. That menacing Wolf is waiting down the pike.

Without getting too crazy here – I believe this Wolf will be something we can subdue. I do oscillate between moments of fearing the worst, and preparing myself for the apocalyptic End Times, and then, in opposition, I think – this is all a bit much, and don’t you think we’re taking this a wee bit far, in our basic shut down of the PLANET????? I actually think we’re somewhere in the middle … time will tell.

But that’s what it is to be at the beginning of a story. And that’s where we are. I listened to Peter and the Wolf before dinner tonight – recalling memories of listening to it on my dad’s turntable countless times as a little girl, and then carrying on the tradition for my boys when they were tiny. I listened with new ears this evening. I found myself lulled by the strings, as they romanced me with Peter’s happy theme. I delighted in the stillness of the sunny day on that farm. I waited with anticipation for the “All is Quiet, All is Quiet” that had been ringing through my head today. I relished it. It was delicious. I let the music of the story spin visions in my head, and dictate my emotions. Inevitably, as the story went on, the darkness seeped in, as it does. And it will.

I’ll admit, I kept my obsessive news checking to a minimum today. So I can’t quote facts and figures on the spread of this thing, and I assume we’re not much better off with the testing than we were yesterday. I find that following this mess statistic by statistic makes me crazy, and my boys too. We’ve been told to stay home, stay safe. So today, that’s exactly what we did. There was soccer and baseball on the field. Ivy got a 2 hour haircut. Since I couldn’t be with my mom for Spring Break, we spoke on the phone for a good long time. The boys seemed more relaxed. They’re thrilled there is no Sunday School or Mass tomorrow. At times, they drove me crazy, all pretty standard. I’m bracing for what’s to come, but for tonight, All is Quiet.

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