It began at the entrance to South Kensington in London in 1973. The tiny young singer had long blonde hair and the most beautiful soprano voice. The song was Streets of London, a popular ballad of the time.
Today a violinist was playing in Burrard Station in the mid-afternoon. The music followed us up the escalator, enclosing riders in a light ethereal embrace.
The curly-haired violinist wielded the bow with passionate enthusiasm. I paused and dug in my backpack. Wanting to encourage him to retain such faith in his art, I dropped a toonie in his violin case. He nodded his thanks, as best he could with a fiddle under his chin.
He had CDs for sale too -- Fiddlestix, it said on the cover. The Toronto Celtic band, or just this lone man? It didn't matter, because the recordings were not what I wanted. It was the moment of surprise and delight of stepping onto a train platform, or an escalator, and unexpectedly hearing live music.
As I ascended to the street on the second escalator, the violin music that floated up with me came to a flourishing end. At the same time, a flock of birds flew low beneath the open glass canopy of the station. The moment was perfect.