The street is cobblestone…pretty, yet inconvenient for weary little feet and stroller wheels.
It’s been a long morning. Breakfast was nice, sitting at an outdoor cafe on the street overlooking mountains, sipping freshly squeezed orange juice and laughing just because…and then walking along the road with all the shops, pretending to be first time tourists visiting the holy city of Tzfat as we shared the beauty of our land with our children…and now the Artists’ Quarter…narrow cobblestone streets lined with display windows where you can find intricate pieces of art, magnificent paintings… sculptures… glass work…jewelry…hand-made wonders nestled high up in a little city of art surrounded by a little land of majestic proportions that takes my breath away.
We told her about this place weeks ago. She’s been so looking forward. On the train, as we passed neatly plowed fields…she asked about the artists again. And then, when the sea came into view and she had to look away because the sun hitting the endless blue was blinding, she wondered about what kind of pictures they made up on the mountain top, way too far for an impatient five-year old who wanted to get off the train already. On the last leg of our journey, the bus climbing up the mountain on twisting roads as the sun went down outside the window she was pressing her noise against, she leaned back, her head resting on my shoulder, and thought about what she was going to see as she sucked her thumb and twirled her hair around and around her little finger until her eyes closed and she fell asleep.
And now, here we are…and she’s tired…because she walked so much…and because she didn’t have her own bed to sleep in last night…and because she’s only five and we haven’t stopped at a playground even though we said we would…
Her little feet drag on cobblestone. She shrugs her shoulders when we point out all the beauty surrounding us.
Then she sees him.
It’s a small shop. His paintings are average for this little street.
He is sitting in front of a canvas. He is creating a small souvenir someone will purchase as a memory of their visit here. He barely looks up when she steps in and stands behind him.
She watches him, quietly, for a long time.
I am ready to move on. I call for her. She is transfixed and doesn’t hear me. But he hears and he turns to me, and to her, and sees something in her eyes he must recognize.
He smiles at her. He holds out his brush and asks her if she would like to paint.
My little girl very slowly nods and accepts his brush. She holds her head still as she gently presses the brush to the canvas, bringing it down ever so carefully as he looks on. She takes a step back, ready to hand the work back to him, but he shakes his head at her and tells her to continue. And then, stroke by stroke, my little girl paints a memory.
Her eyes are bright. Her cheeks are flushed. She steps back from her work with pride. As she hands over the brush, he smiles at her again.
“You’re going to be a great artist,” he says. And nodding knowingly at me, he adds, “I can tell…I can tell…”