The Fireside: Chopin Nocturnes

I still don’t have any kindling.

But, What I lack in kindling I more than make up for with a new hatchet. When life gives you lemons, you smash them to smithereens with a new hatchet, then toss them in the fire. Isn’t that how it goes?

We spent the day with my folks celebrating my Dads birthday. The kids ran and played and shrieked the way happy kids do, then we fought to keep him awake on the drive home. Anyone with a four year old will tell you that naps are the death knell of an easy bedtime. This was indeed a hill to die on. Fortunately we were successful and while my wife got him settled I came out to prepare what has now become my weekly evening fire.

This one actually took a bit to get going. My sure thing bag of fire making tricks runneth empty, so once I finished splitting some more logs I had to resort to the old standby of newspapers and cardboard to bring my fire up to self sustaining status. The fire, she made me work for it this night.

It feels a bit like fall these last few days. When it hasn’t been raining, the air has been cooler and dry. The evenings dip into the 60s with just a hint of crispness that indicates the coming of Autumn. It’s July. Welcome to seasons in New England.

The cooler weather tends to drive me towards classical music. It’s always been this way. Maybe it was growing up with my Dad being the fanatic he was in those days. The fireside isn’t a time for a rollicking piece by Mozart or Beethoven, and I think we can all agree Brahms and Tchaikovsky are just a little to heavy. Tonight I settled on Chopin Nocturnes as played by Maurizio Pollini.

I’ve never heard this particular collection before although in the last couple years I’ve found myself returning to Frédéric Chopin’s nocturnes more and more. I’ve found them fitting in the quiet times before and after the days busy moments. There are times when I have to wake early for work in hotels, or get in unreasonably late, and these peaceful pieces have been just enough to fill the emptiness with something beautiful that helps me find my center. Tonight, after another happy and busy day in this little family of ours, I can find no better music.

And maybe that’s why my Dad loved classical music so much. For a man that spent over four decades making life and death decisions for sixteen hours a day, the peace this music might have provided him perhaps helped him find his center. Perhaps gave him peace in the spaces between the noise. I’ve never asked how he managed it, but being a dad now myself and having the responsibility of providing for my family much in the way he did at my age, I can understand how important it is to take the peace where you can find it. I don’t work nearly as hard as he did back then. My chosen walk of life doesn’t have the every-single-day pressures that his did. I don’t have much to complain about. Maybe I’m lucky that way.

I just wish I had his love for lawn care. But that’s a story for another day.


  1. I’d submit Holst’s The Planets has a nice balance, but it’s obviously not as light as Chopin.

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