Paparazzi Stalking for a Painting
that time I secretly followed a stranger because I thought she'd make a good painting (spoiler: she did)
Suburban Philly has its charms. Quality cheesesteaks aside, number one on my list are the grand old estates transformed into museums and public gardens. I'm tickled that the original owners (or their culturally minded heirs) had the foresight to preserve the beauty of places like Chanticleer and Longwood Gardens rather than sell the land to build overwrought mini mansions fit for Real Housewives.
I visit these places with my family a lot—in yoga pants and slathered in sunscreen. I usually take a hundred pictures of tulips and fountains and bamboo forests. But I never had a real urge to paint any of my photos until I saw Fancy Garden Lady (FGL) at Winterthur Garden on the PA/Delaware border.
My son spotted her first from the seat of our garden tram tour. She was casually sitting on an embankment with her knees tucked under her dress, holding a notebook. Who, in real life, wears a pretty A-line dress straight out of an Anthropologie catalog for a day at the gardens? Doesn't FGL know the prevalence of deer ticks in our area? Does she not sweat? Who was she trying to impress? Herself, duh. I seriously appreciated FGL's effort, pride of appearance and obvious disdain for athleisure. I tried to snap a photo of her sitting in the grass like some 40-year-old Alice, but the tram rolled on.
Then we found her again by the tiered koi ponds playing coy, examining the fish and their surroundings, jotting in her notebook. I snapped a photo of her gazing down at the koi, perched above a little waterfall. I tried to get her again while she and my son jockeyed for a well-placed koi-spotting rock on the edge of another pond. She smiled at us and daintily disappeared behind a garden wall.