The pots on my terrace which I have been nurturing all summer are fading fast; the hostas are withdrawing into themselves and even the banana plant is eyeing up the coming frosts and tipping me the wink to be brought indoors. However the weeds that grow up between the cracks on the terrace are multiplying faster than you can say Roundup; those green and bushy weeds are thriving so much you’d imagine I was feeding them a great RHS elixir. Hhhmmph! the ones I give my attention to are failing and the ones I ignore are thriving; you can imagine my sense of injustice.
When I’m writing I sit staring at a blank screen with some vague idea of my intended outcome and………..ppssshhht…………nothing comes, my brain goes blank, the result of those alcohol filled teenage years no doubt; however if I so much as converse, jump in the car, go to the cinema, ride a bike, or read a book the ideas flow faster than an iceflow in summer BUT because I’m occupied I do not write them down and then when I sit back in front of my computer…………ppssssht………..my mind’s gone blank again; my brain would never admit to any idea, let alone a good one, and I conclude my brain prefers multitasking and naturally I should be carrying a notepad at all times. Still, the incidental (ie a new idea) is a byproduct of going off task, completely unexpected.
With painting I toil all day with a difficult painting or illustration, battle it out, break out in a real sweat when it doesn’t go to plan; then at the end of the day when I’m no longer concentrating, just idly toying with the colours left on my palette – like a surly child playing with her food- I see the most succinct little abstract piece with layers of meaning you could ever hope to create. And that’s just the palette. Still, the incidental (in this case an end of the day painting) is a byproduct of going off task, completely unexpected.
In Venice we found ourselves millimetres away from the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni itching to see the Carpaccios; scratching our heads in dismay as the actual entrance eluded us (I later found out it was covered in scaffolding and closed anyway). Stopping and asking a chichi Italian woman exactly where it was, she sign languaged us to follow her. With her arm fully outstretched as her chiwawa lead the way, she marched us all over Venice on a wild goose chase, down every imagineable alley and over every conceivable bridge, until finally emerging on the Grand Canal, where she pointed at the water meaningfully, we smiled gratefully (how very British), then promptly disappeared. Uhuh? Che? Never understanding what our grand tour had been about and not having the language wherewithal to enquire further, to this day I think she harboured an earnest disregard for all visitors to Venice (ie hated tourists), and was taking sweet revenge by trying to wear at least one set out. Perhaps I’m being too harsh. What she hadn’t realised however was that she had inadvertently created the most powerful experience of the place for us and an indellible memory etched on our brains for ever more. In hindsight I loved that walk, not so much Lost In Venice as misled in Venice. Still, the incidental (ie a wonderful memory) is a byproduct of going off task, completely unexpected.
So today in and amongst the weeds in the cracks on my terrace I happen to notice half a dozen little winter flowering pansies smiling in the sunshine. How lovely. Self set, the seeds have obviously blown off the bowl of violas on the table, which had flourished until earlier in the summer. The new little baby plants are a delightful by product, one I hadn’t planned, but one which I shall now nurture. Hhmmm, thank goodness for those unexpected incidentals but hey, go easy on the Tumbleweed, Sara.