A Kinrowan Estate story: Summer, fiddlers, and something wild (A Letter to Justina)

Warmest greetings my friend,

Well now, I think spring is finally giving away to an early summer. Or I might just deceiving myself.

Yes, it’s summer, I’m thinking. You should have seen this fiddler in here last night playing with the the Neverending Session. Whoooooeeeee. The Session is always around here somewhere, sometimes one or two musicians playing in a hallway or in the kitchen or wherever, sometimes a whole roomful of them, but last night they were here in the Pub.

Everybody noticed her when she walked in: nut brown skin, hair all shadows and light, eyes of green that…well, I don’t actually know what ‘lambent’ means exactly, but if there were ever eyes that were lambent, I’ll bet they were. None of us have seen her here before, not in recent memory, anyway, and ‘recent’ is a fairly loose term around here, you know.

Anyway, she was a head-turner. Oh, she wasn’t beautiful or anything, or even that attractive, but as soon as she walked in the door, we all felt Someone had come in and we all looked, I could see heads turning all over the pub. Not that we looked long. You don’t stare at anyone here, it isn’t safe. You might give offence to someone it’s better not to offend, you know what I mean?

Anyway, down she sat in the circle of musicians, with her brown silk skirt swirling out around her, a leafy lace of changeable greens over that, and damned if she didn’t produce a fiddle and bow seemingly out of nowhere. She started playing, and that thing that musicians do, that happened then. Some of them started slowly drifting away, to the bar to listen, to friends to chat, or out the door, and others started appearing as if by magic, some just to listen, some to sit down and play.

Her fiddle playing was the wild kind, the kind that doesn’t care what the others are playing, she has her own ideas about what the tune is doing, and she cares more about those ideas than fitting into a group — you don’t necessarily get a great night of playing tunes together out of that, but you often get an earful of great music if everyone’s willing to let it happen, and most of our musos are the sort who’ll let a night go the way it’ll go; they know there’ll be more tunes soon. I like that, that these guys will let a night go where it will.

Anyway, the night was good — lots of this wild music, almost impossible for the backers to play, so most of them dropped out to listen. They were all over the place, musically speaking, it was like she was catching or something. Lots of shifts in key or mode or what have you, all in a single tune, then they’d be off to the next one.

And she sat there in the middle of them. She didn’t drink except for some water. It was like she’d put down roots. She didn’t say much, and I don’t think anyone ever got her name. And her fiddle — the same nut brown as her skin, and she let it do most of her talking. Talk about your fiddle being part of you — you’ve heard people say that? Like the fiddle is an extension of you, or how the fiddle is your voice? She was like that.

Well, I guess she is that.

At the end of the night, she played a slow air that sounded like a goodbye, then looked around, smiled a little bit, stood up and walked out without saying anything else. By that time, of course, we were all watching her pretty carefully. We never saw her put the fiddle into a case, but it was just gone somehow, as if she’d just put it into a pocket. I guess that was when we all knew instead of just guessing.

Yeah. I’d say summer is definitely here. The sap has risen, and now it’s out walking around, you know?

With affection, Reynard


I'm the Pub Manager for the Green Man Pub which is located at the KInrowan Estate. I'm married to Ingrid, our Steward who's also the Estate Buyer. If I'm off duty and in a mood for a drink, it'll be a single malt, either Irish or Scottish, no water or ice, or possibly an Estate ale or cider. I'm a concertina player, and unlike my wife who has a fine singing voice, I do not have anything of a singing voice anyone want to hear!

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