It was raining on and off – the perfect day for cosying up with a blankie and a book which is exactly what I’d been doing the whole morning.
I felt the need to connect with the outside world, to interact with strangers and talk to them about everyday things in meaningful ways. I wanted to witness all the ordinary goings-on at a pace slow enough to absorb the atmosphere and details of all the scenes gradually melding into one another, taking snapshots with my eyes with a serene smile. The kind of speed at which one places one foot in front of the other, without causing the heart to jump too wildly or the cheeks to fluster, seemed appropriate.
What held me back from this dream outing? I had neither a jacket with a hood nor an umbrella. Well, I had an umbrella, but it didn’t work. I discovered this as soon as I had arrived home after buying it. It didn’t pop up. The popping button was faulty. Skew. Unpressable. Useless. A bit like the parrot in the Monty Python Parrot sketch.
It was deader than dead and I needed to get back to the shop to swap it out for a “live” one.
Risk was required to solve the dead umbrella problem and my overstuffed head. It involved venturing outside, unprotected from the elements.
Anything could happen.
I might get caught in a downpour. My head and other parts not covered by my jacket could get wet! I could even experience melting like the witch in “The Wizard of Oz”!
Oh, the horrors of it all.
And the thrill.
Being ill-prepared has been known to put a sparkle in my eye. In both eyes, even.
Off I set to conquer the great outdoors! A 45-minute walk along suburban roads to a shopping centre. Perhaps it was a rather pedestrian undertaking but beneath all its pedestrian pedestrianism lay the uncertain outcome, the possibility of discovering the unknown.
Smacks of an adventure to me!
The beginning was exceptionally uneventful, although not unpleasant. I walked on tar pavements, grass pavements, even beautifully paved pavements. I crossed roads at traffic lights and went over a bridge. I greeted passers-by with semi-inaudible mouthing’s of hellos and half-smiles, jogging the last few metres to the centre as the rains began.
The umbrella swap went smoothly, although having to settle for a black one with a curved handle as no more red ones with straight handles were available felt disappointing – the red umbrella being the only thing to potentially punctuate the surroundings out of their pedestrianism.
But, I now had a functioning umbrella. Mission complete. Time for a reward.
Following the aroma of baked-goods down the escalator to a display of gigantic croissants and other puffy, white-floured, poison delights, I asked whether they might have any healthier bread alternatives such as potato or rye. I expected the negative answer that came, just wanting to be in close proximity to the seductive smells. They never tasted quite as good and their after-effects were often undesirable.
What lay next door was a far more tempting option, especially on a rainy, grey day.
I ordered a Mocha from the softly-spoken lady. Take-away. What else would I take away from this day?
Another order came from behind me “Flat white please and how are you doing” said he. Her generic “Well, thanks and you?” reply and then, with a pause and some amusement in his blocked-nosed voice, “Ag, I could be better hey”, which made me smile and half-laugh in his direction. A momentary connection as I slid away sideways, clutching my comfort in a cup.
Then my heart fell into “The Italian Artshop”. I spent a good hour examining every tube of oil paint, finding out what masking fluid is used for, marveling at highlighter pencils and coveting watercolour travel brush sets rolled up in a bamboo mat at an exorbitant price. Whilst being dazzled by the palette knife display I heard laughing behind me: a DVD running of two artists painting a giant watercolour together on top of a hilltop overlooking the countryside.
Art + nature = perfection.
Their playful energy was magnetic. I sat on the couch to absorb the final 20 minutes of excited paint splashing and splotching with various sized and shaped brushes, dancing around the canvas, arms reaching over each other. I was mesmerised, spellbound, loathe to blink. The speed with which they made their seemingly haphazard mark-making was exhilarating.
Quick! Put a tree there! Blotches of brown spots here and there, then scraped off with a piece of card to reveal branches, some structure, an idea of a shape. Spots of white, an impression of light. More shape! Give it more shape!
Great swathes of green for meadows, long lines of grey mountains. Two black cow-shaped smudges to finish.
[bctt tweet=”They were done and I was hooked, floating out of the shop, buzzing and content, wondering why I’d never thought of watching artists painting before.” username=”survivor_bunny”]
Nearing the mall’s exit I found myself gravitating towards some old looking pencil drawings of children on the beach, adults being parental. The shop burst with antique crockery treasures, from floor to higher than eye-level shelf. I held my backpack close to my back, being sure to keep my elbows in and eyes on my feet. A Harmonica and finely crafted leather purses caught my eye, prompting me to ask the lady of the shop where she got all these things from. Mostly deceased estates, she replied, but the sad thing was that the old person had sometimes kept something wrapped up and unused for decades to give to their child or grandchild, but when the time came to give it to them, they didn’t want it, unappreciative or perhaps unaware of the importance of and meaning behind the thought as well as the thing.
On the home stretch along the river I saw two men stuck in a kayak. They were hanging over the edge of the weir, the one in front’s legs dangling out the sides, oar in the air, laughing triumphantly. I wanted to take a photo and stop and ask them where they had started, where they were heading, who they were and where they were from. To join in the silliness of their adventure. Instead, I chuckled quietly in their direction and kept walking, looking back once or twice, tormenting myself with why I didn’t do any of those things.
As a consolation, I was treated to a view of a huge flock of Ibis and Egret enjoying the wormy nourishment the rains had brought down the river.
(Yes those white dots are birds. Sorry the picture is small.)
And rounding the corner of the driveway at home the clouds burst again and, although I got a few drops on my head, I think it’s safe to say I’m not a witch (otherwise I’m a real ghostwriter).
Featured image courtesy of Pexels