When I was a child I took lessons from a local piano teacher, organist and composer named Regina Fryxell. She was married to a prominent geologist who had traveled extensively in the American West, the South Pacific, Europe and Africa and brought back many trophies, so their living room, where we had lessons, was full of stones and geodes, as well as animal skins, horns, furs and mounted heads.
But that is a story for a different day.
Today I want to tell you about Mr. Dixon. That was the name Mrs. Fryxell gave to her black metronome that sat next to the piano and kept a steady beat. Mr. Dixon was the name of the conductor of the local symphony. When she wanted to help me with rhythmic steadiness, she said, "Let's turn on Mr. Dixon and see what he says."
All these years later, with Mrs. Fryxell long gone and their house full of animals torn down, and Mr. Dixon gone too, and the symphony renamed, and my metronome now on my smartphone and not a machine plugged into the wall, I still think of my metronome as "Mr. Dixon."