Play it Forward

Hilary Berg, OWP Editor

Unexpected joy. That is how I would describe my experience when photographer Andrea Johnson and I were in Southeast Portland to take photos for this issue’s cover story. 

We were there to capture the essence that is ENSO and its winemaker/owner Ryan Sharp. Little did I know his music would capture me. 

The plan was for him to sit at the piano and play a little, so we could catch him in action. 

Since he had just run around, rearranging his tasting room to accommodate our evolving vision of the photo, I really wasn’t expecting a whole lot; it wasn’t Ryan’s talent — I had never heard his music before — but, instead, the lazy Sunday vibe I had encountered everywhere else before we arrived. 

After the piano was in place and some wine was poured, Ryan graciously sat down and began to play ... his heart out.

As his fingers moved across the keys and his voice filled the space around us, I suddenly stopped my fussing — nervous energy, really — and was pulled into the song. Before long, I started to well up inside. 

I don’t think anyone noticed my emotional reaction. Andrea was busy photographing, and the small crowd gathered on the sidewalk was just as entranced. 

Was it the wail in his voice? Yes. Was it the purposeful pounding of the keys, as if therapeutically ridding himself of pent-up emotion? Most definitely. 

Looking back on that Sunday afternoon, I realize now that it was also Ryan’s overall passion — on the piano, behind the bar, in a conversation about his wife and two sons — that had me feeling sentimental. 

His demonstration of spirit — and kindness — had my heart singing the rest of the day. 

I was renewed with a desire to pay it forward, delivering unexpected joy to someone, somewhere, someday soon. 

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