By Vita Forest
I perched on the slope on my plastic bag seat and stared at the paperbark that Katrina had pointed out. She knew my fondness for old trees, gnarled trees, trees that had lived a little. The branches radiating out, the bark twisting and peeling. My book balancing on my knee and my pencil sharp. I started mapping and tracing, scribbling and hatching with Lucy beside me, laying back on the grass.
A light fall of rain forced us under the canopy of another tree. I adjusted my layout and with a bit of artistic licence, the drawing continued. Lucy curled up on her side, reading her book.
Then we crunched over the gravel drive where the carriages used to circle and admired the dense sprays of flowers, buzzing with butterflies, swallows swaying over the grass and even a duck paddling its feet in the fountain. Sunflowers ripe, clutching their black seeds, petals losing grasp, rusty grass swinging in the welcome breeze come up from the harbour, through those leaning pines. They reminded me of the ones I had drawn in Kiama, ringing the showground, sprayed by the sea.
We sat on the verandah, gentile in cane chairs and I sketched again and Lucy read again. Katrina sitting symmetrical to the path to the fountain, us on the right, the immediate foreground a burst of sunflowers stretching up above the grasses. And I wondered how the others could stand to stand out there in the sun to draw the house? The heat that drew lines of sweat down my nose and back, that smeared Katrina’s paper as she leaned her arm against it. We sat in the shade and welcomed that unreliable, capricious breeze that wound its way up from the water now and again. Lucy tested the grass, the soft velvet grass with a couple of cartwheels, a couple of walkovers and decided it was “good”.
And later we all tramped back down to the pond, resplendent in pearly lotus, in mauve waterlilies. We posed for photos, sketches under our chins and admired each others’ efforts and swapped stories and made plans. And later, as we left, Lucy and I noticed some seeds underfoot and looked up to see the overhanging branches of a pomegranate tree, positively dripping in scarlet baubles of fruit.