By Joanna Bastian

I attended Lynette Westendorf’s annual birthday concert, “A Whimsical Retrospective of My Life in Music.” It was a gift to hear her musical journey, beginning with early piano recitals, shenanigans on the organ bench in church services, road trips with the band, and all the life experiences that continue to inspire her creative compositions. Her personal stories included their move to the Methow during winter, and it reminded me of a fun thing I’ll never do again: move to the Methow in the middle of a snowstorm.

The route to our house is simple: over the river and through the woods — and up a steep hill.

Throughout the day, snow fell softly in large soft flakes. Surrounded by trees and the steady sound of the creek, the day felt magical, as if we were in a snow globe. The movers were from Southern California and had never seen snow. They were giddy with wonder, pausing to catch snowflakes on their tongues and fingertips. They talked about how their wives would love it here, and maybe they should move here too. Everything was going surprisingly well until it was the piano’s turn to come out of the moving truck.

By then, the snow was falling in heavy drifts. The men were tired and had long since stopped marveling at the weather. The last item in the truck was the baby grand piano. On this day, with her legs removed, and the soundboard swaddled tightly in quilts and shrink wrapped, she was a perfect dead weight primed for luging.

They balanced her on the long side of the soundboard and slid her from the back of the truck to the ramp. One mover clipped his weight belt to a strap around the piano. Another positioned himself in front of her, bracing as they gingerly inched her down the ramp. Snow fell thickly, coating the ramp faster than anyone could sweep it clean. The man in front of the piano lost his footing and tumbled off the ramp.

Now without a force holding her back, the piano slid down the ramp, and gained speed as she glissaded down, down, down the driveway, dragging the poor little mover behind her, still attached by his weight belt. The soundboard hummed in glee while the man screamed, “Why does God hate me so much?” I remember these words well, as he was surprisingly articulate while sledding on a piano. If I were in a similar position, being dragged by a large musical instrument, I would be capable of just one elongated syllable, certainly not a complete sentence comprised of seven words. It was impressive.

With surprising speed and agility, the other mover sprinted after them and gallantly threw himself in the path of the inebriated instrument, stopping her gallivanting escapade. The movers seemed surprisingly unfazed by the incident and had her up the hill and safely in the house in what seemed like minutes.

Moral of the story: Pianos aim to be entertaining, even when no one is sitting at the bench.

PREVIOUSLY IN LOWER VALLEY