I wish I could sketch. I long to capture the beauty, the tranquility that surrounds me as the sun sets on this Louisiana June day where I’ve kept watch over my daughter as she recovers from surgery. My camera is insufficient despite its “state of the art” status. There’s a depth here, a layering of life—of senses—that simply can’t be digitized.
The heat of summer still hovers, but it is not oppressive; not like the South Alabama June that blankets everything in stifling humidity. At home, the late afternoon thundershowers, though powerful in their intensity, are no match for the humidity. Here, the showers wash the air in delicious coolness: swimsuit at 4PM; sweatshirt at 7PM.
A lawn mower drones in the distance, just far enough away to fade into white noise that doesn’t disrupt the calling of birds. I sit on the shaded side of the pond looking at the trees and clouds drifting in the sepia water, a pool of tea surrounded by reeds and the barely perceptible buzz of honeybees returning to their waterfront hive.
Dragonflies dip to the water, dive-bombing and climbing so quickly that only the concentric circles rippling the surface reveal their brief presence. If I am quiet and take the time to wait awhile, wonders can be seen.
A duck lands on the pond, breaking the silence and fairly skating across the glass. Its athleticism is breathtaking, a study in aerodynamic grace. Across the watery expanse, a turtle lifts its head to survey the surroundings before dipping once again to the depths. Every few minutes, a fish jumps in the reeds and I worry that it will beach itself on the bank in its quest for dinner. I remind myself that the fish certainly knows this pond better than I. I am merely an observer.
The shape of the pond appears natural and timeless. It is difficult to imagine that such beauty is the work of a backhoe or thousands of backbreaking shovelfuls of rocky soil. Its western tip is narrow and murky. A film of algae and pine pollen lies on the surface, still as a secret. It is there I imagine the water snakes hold their congregation. I keep a sharp eye, simultaneously longing to see one fording the scum and shivering at the possibility.
The pond is large enough for a canoe, but it seems almost profane to mar its pristine beauty with such a foreign craft. The dragonflies have skittered away now, and frogs create a choral bassline that anchors the eddying birdsong and complements the staccato percussion of grasshoppers in the open field.
The sun sinks to the tip of the tree line behind me and the pond is transformed. The mirrored images on the water become so sharp it is difficult to judge the height of the reeds on its eastern, sun-swept side. They become giants, stretching skyward. Dusk appears to advance from the west as the hues of the pond deepen, drawing gray-green fingers toward last light. I blink, and the illusion of reversal is gone.
I wish I could sketch this. I wish I could capture in oils the depth and dimension of a simple pond tucked into a tree-flanked corner of summer one solitary sunset far from home.