Dahlias, heliopsis, globe thistles, fringed shasta daisies, phlox. The garden is bursting, and I'm drawing rapidly to try to capture its amazing energy in these last few weeks before we tumble into autumn.
Today I started work on the first of two painting commissions I've received this summer - both for people who want pictures of their gardens. It's a happy thing, to try to preserve some of that ephemeral beauty not just for now, but for posterity.
Last night I took a walk in Parc Lafontaine. The sun was going down, and people were sitting in small groups, finishing their picnics or bottles of wine, talking quietly. The families of ducklings were swimming back and forth along the shore, hoping for handouts; the little ones aren't so little anymore, in fact they begin to look very much like their mothers through they still make baby-duck peeping sounds as they swim. Someone was also piloting a radio-controlled sailboat on the lake, a pretty pure white scale model that moved in the breeze very much like the real thing.
At the far end of the lower lake are several benches, and on the furthest one was seated an old man, playing a small accordion and singing. His bike leaned again the back of his bench. The man was bare-headed, with a tousled head of white hair, and he wore a reflective vest over his clothes. I liked his voice and the ease of his playing, and sat down to listen. He sang traditional Quebecois songs, and evey now and then a traditional English or American tune, with alternate verses in English. I found myself singing along as he went through the many verses of "You Are My Sunshine." Another old man, wearing a rosary around his neck, pulled his bike up on the next bench and also sat down to listen. The singer sang with that nasal Quebecois inflection I've come to appreciate, and although he was appreciative when people passing by left him a coin, I had the distinct feeling he was singing because he loved to, not primarily to make money in this low-traffic, low-key place.
It was a beautiful evening, with the breeze blowing the tops of the trees to one side, the murmering of other people, the occasional quacking of the ducks or cry of a seagull as it dipped its wings over the water, the lapping of the little waves, and the music, so clear and unaffected. I stayed for fifteen or twenty minutes, and then got up at the end of a tune to continue my walk, leaving a few coins in the singer's spread-out coat. Merci, je suis plus heureuse maintenant, I told him, with a smile that he quickly returned. Thank you, he said, in perfect English. It makes me happy when my music makes other people happy.