The world outside my window is blurry, white, thick. Peering through the fog, I can see the whiteness of the snow, the dark shapes of the bare trees. The river birch nearest me has twisting, thin branches and on each branch, a row of delicate drops hang, waiting to fall. Beyond the closest trees, all is soft and grey.
I am alone in the house except for the kindly old man who tunes my piano. He has been working for an hour, hitting notes, putting in a new piece of felt under the soft pedal. But when the job is done, he sits down at the bench and plays a song, softly. From my spot at my desk, where I am grading papers, I hear the music. Each note seems to trigger a memory, a tightness in my throat. The song is an unexpected gift. It makes me cry.