#18 The First Walk
Three times during our ten month stay below the White Elephant quarry, London and walked seven miles along the valley road into town, twice in sunshine and once in rain.
The first walk was on a warm day in spring. Each time a car appeared, it stopped beside me and its driver offered me a ride into town, which I declined. Then the driver immediately headed for the stone yard to tell G.B. his “artist” was heading into town — afoot! With each report G.B. traced my progress.
When we arrived at the stone yard office there were curious staff and visitors waiting for us. G.B. handed me a cold Pepsi, while the yard-men called London to a freshly poured bowl of water.
“What’s wrong? Y’all have a flat?” G.B. asked.
“No, I just fancied to see if I could walk to town and back.”
“Y’all’re a-walkin’ back?” A flash of anger touched his face.
G.B. paused and he pondered. Then, as was his way, he rubbed his hand around his mouth, over his nose and back down to his mouth. But this needed more pondering. He reared back in his big old office chair, with his elbows out and his fingers splayed at the top of his thighs. In a dramatic gesture he removed his wavy brimmed, old straw hat, held it out high in a commanding pose while he rubbed his other hand around and around his bald pate. He held each person; staff, visitors and me silent and unsure. With a final histrionic gesture, he replanted his old straw hat.
Unable to find an explanation for my actions, G.B. said in his slow Okie way, “Y’all’re a strange Canadian painter lady Charle.”