I was visited by Belle Shalom today, a short grey-haired woman wearing a neon orange t-shirt and a teal sweater, the colors vibrating wonderfully together. Belle had driven by me many times but for some reason she decided to stop and chat with me today. She started firing off questions the minute she parked her car on C’s gravel lot. “Do a lot of people ask to take your picture, and does that bother you?” She asked to take my picture, and went back to her car to get her point and shoot camera. She started fiddling about with the buttons, and finally got it to work but the photos turned out dark because I was backlit by the sun. Also, she had trouble fitting the entire scene into one image. “I guess it’s like a joke, you had to be there…” she said, which I think is a great way to explain why seeing a work of art in person is so much better than looking at a reproduction. We finally got an okay picture when I craned my neck around to face the morning sun. She said, “You are very persevering…or maybe the word is tenacious.” I felt grateful for the compliment; I’d been feeling ragged around the edges. “Sometimes with a work of art you aren’t sure if it’s about the artist’s ego–maybe they’re hiding a deeper meaning from you–but I don’t care, all that matters to me is if I’m attracted to it. If I like it, that’s enough.” And a little while later, “I don’t want to be an artist, I just want to learn to sketch. I’ve got terrible spatial perception…I just want to be able to go on my daily walk, and tell the difference between a duck and a bird.” I gave her my card, and she said she might look me up for art lessons. I would love to teach her how to sketch a duck and a bird someday. On one of her walks, she had recently come across a tree with a bicycle in it, and was hoping to get a photo of it. She wanted to know how the bike got there, if it was stolen, or what. “I bet you two bits it won’t be there today because I’m never on the dime.” I thoroughly enjoyed her quick, curious mind and spunky way of expressing herself. “You’re so open and inviting,” she said to me and I told her that connecting with people was part of the art. After she left, I sat savoring her name Belle Shalom, truly feeling that I had received a beautiful peace in that exchange.