I did my usual Tuesday morning photography outing to the Naples Botanical Garden yesterday. They open at 8:00 for members and for dogs who enjoy walking their owners in a beautiful setting. When I arrived, there were only a few cars in the parking lot, the sky was a bright blue, the sun just peaking over the landscape, and the breeze was comfortably cool. I was surprised to see all the orchids blooming in the the orchid garden so spent a lot of time there. I also spent time with the lotus blossoms opening with the morning light, and visited with the butterflies. But the most interesting and beautiful subject was an artist.
There were a lot of artists in the park, but I noticed this one painting a ways off the walkway, as I was walking towards the exit to leave because of foot pain. She was so compelling that I walked over even though I was in “counting steps mode.” I watched her paint for a while, intrigued by the amount of care she was taking with putting down the foundation layers of color. She surfaced from her intense concentration after a few minutes, noticed me and said hi.
I asked her how long she had been painting – she thought awhile and then replied since the kids left home and the dog died. I quietly chuckled with understanding. In the next half hour or so she told me that she is enjoying the freedom she has to come to the garden to paint since her husband (who had dementia) died in May. She didn’t feel a need to say more and I didn’t need to ask any more.
I felt a connection to her, maybe because she didn’t feel a need to communicate everything. And then I knew I liked her when I asked if I could take some photographs of her. A few seconds later she commented that she was in the sun and should move. I told her that she didn’t have to move, the light was fine for me – she smiled and said that she was referring to her canvas being in the sun. I chuckled and said I though she was concerned about the light for my photography. She gave me a glance, smiled and said she thought I could take care of myself. Yes, I can.
While I was leisurely taking my photos, we chatted (a little) about painting and composition and telephone poles, and photography. Someone stopped by to say hi to her, and then another woman came to chat. They were also artists and knew each other well – I could tell by the ease of conversation.
I left, thinking I felt good enough to do a quick check of the butterfly pavilion, and also thinking how much I would enjoy getting to know her better. About once a year I meet someone who I think I would like being friends with, because of their personality and the ease with which we are together. I really enjoy women who are strong, independent, comfortable with themselves and people, and who don’t feel a need to take care of me – but would if I really needed it.
I hope she continues to be at the garden every Tuesday morning so I can see how her painting is progressing.