During my rehab work in Copenhagen, I experienced many revelations that encouraged and at the same time distracted me. We worked on other significant things affecting everyday life rather than just focusing on my piano playing. It was exciting to find that my voice was becoming more resonant and that talking became correspondingly easier as we worked on the core muscles.
Walking down steps was another of those “everyday life” problems. Even though my legs had been the least affected part of my body, a great fear of descending a flight of stairs, first evident in Paris, had stayed with me. As Nybo and I worked on exercises for the core muscles, I found that descending a staircase was gradually becoming less frightening.
A different test came up at Mrs. Buttrup’s, as she, Marcel, and I were having dinner one evening. She explained that she needed to go into the hospital for a few days to have some surgery and was hoping that I would be able to take care of Marcel while she was away. I was eager to help; the main difficulty would be preparing the evening meal. But Mrs. Buttrup assured me she would have several dishes prepared in advance and that it should be relatively easy for Marcel and me to manage.
True to her word, she left the refrigerator well stocked, and Marcel and I were determined to run everything as smoothly as possible. One day I put some soup on to simmer shortly before he got home from school. It seemed a little bland, so I looked around for peppercorns to add to the broth. An obvious jar sat close to the stove, and although the peppercorns seemed a little different in texture from what I had expected, I proceeded to sprinkle a few into the mix. When Marcel came home I showed him a puzzling thing about the simmering soup—a strangely abrasive feel and sound was coming from the bottom of the pot. When I pointed to the jar from which I’d taken the peppercorns, he burst out laughing—too convulsed to speak. He pointed to a birdcage on a high kitchen shelf. Aha! What I had thought to be a jar of peppercorns was a jar of bird gravel! We laughed all evening, having of course fixed ourselves something else for supper.