Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

21 August 2009

The Art Critic

I wander along the Barga-Renaio road and sit with my feet in the long grass of the downward side of the road doing a painting of the houses that teeter over the bluff above the town, with the very misty, almost obscured at times, Apuane Alps in the distance. Although absorbed, I hear a faint shuffle behind me and some laboured breathing. I look around to see an old, stooped man leaning on a stick watching me. ‘Buon giorno’ I wish him; he replies with a grunt. I continue my work while he wheezes. He seems content to be ignored. I, not at all put off, work quickly with oil pastel and watercolour and as the lighter colours emerge from the wash he grunts, ‘Buon lavoro…’ and totters away. 

When I realize that he has just congratulated me I call after him, ‘Grazie, signor’ and he waves his stick at me without looking round. ‘Good work!’ Indeed, I must be good if he has said so.

It’s pleasant sitting in the summer grasses looking out into the silvery mists across the olive groves that dive away from my feet. The tortuous trees - they look saurian with lizard limbs of wood - are fruiting with hard little olive, modest looking treasures.

The weather seems to be changing.

From ‘Antipasto’ random samplings from various writings made over a few years of visits to a ‘New Zealander’s Italy’


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By Don Donovan