“Rose, where did you get that red?”

I hadn’t gone a half mile when this rose called out to me. The rest of the 15 mile run would have to wait while I attempted to pin down that crimson blossom on paper. Having finally decided not to take oil paints on this trip, it has become my goal to master what I am taking; namely pastels and watercolor/gouache.

There were many contributing factors that urged my decision this way and that, but in the end it was the fact that it just was unfeasible. It also lacked compassion for the receiver. Four days ago, I was painting a rose (imagine that) and a girl stated as she passed by, “That’s Beautiful!” I offered it to her as a peace offering, but she lamented that she was on her way to a concert, seeing it was still wet, she did not have the means to accept my gift. Had it been dry…her day might have been more full. If compassion is my ultimate goal, then oils will not be borne by my chariot.

Having only just completed the drawing of today’s fore mentioned rose, the homeowner pulled into the driveway in which I partly sat. They being somewhat shocked, prompted me to offer, “Geez, this is awkward.” They thought nothing of it, and encouraged me to continue. When I was done I offered it to Erin, and she accepted it with joy.

Having left there I ventured forth to discover a park on the McKenzie river I didn’t even know existed. Having run far out into some old farm land, I scurried down the bank to find the prime spot already taken. I asked Heavenly and Chelsea, as I would come to know them, if I may share their perch on the river’s bank and allow myself to be taken by the splendor that is the McKenzie. To this end, they were most gracious and generous. They lead me to see a Bald Eagle that was currently ripping a trout to ribbons, and I shared with them my delight at seeing the magnificent birds return from near eradication.

Upon these banks with cool waters lapping, rippling and gurgling beside us, we talked of love, peace, compassion, and art. Always having extra art supplies on hand, I offered them the chance to paint and draw with me, to which they exuberantly agreed. While we were drawing, a boy passing behind us fell, and Chelsea immediately went to his aid. I thought to myself at the time, this is the most simple example of true compassion. She merely went to his aid, but did not presume that he needed it. She respected his masculinity and his embarrassment, but at the same time made herself available. I can’t think of a better example than this. That all of us would do the same I do not doubt, but it was the simplicity of the act that struck me. Her actions and intentions were as if to say, “I am available should you need me, but I respect and love you enough, to watch you solve your problems without me.” If only the whole world could act in like stead!!!

Heavenly, was the jubilant sort; the kind of girl that never is without friends, and tends to be the life and laughs of any party. Funny and quick yet sincere and reflected. I teased her regarding her name, and asked if her parents were hippies or religious zealots. Sweetly she told me the story of her birth, and of the twin brother who’s life wasn’t meant to be. She related this with no sense of moroseness, but rather matter-of-factly, and all the while with her pleasant smile.

Reflecting on this, I find that this trip has only one bad aftertaste. It is that friendships forged are so short and fleeting. Had Heavenly and I had more time, I am sure we would have become fast friends. It was almost sad to watch her and Chelsea go. I called out after them asking of their next destination, but cautious should they think this strange man with the blue tunic a stalker. I hope that on the trip I get the chance to meet and really get to know more people rather than the fleeting glimpses into peoples lives it has so far afforded me.

In the end, we traded drawings and said adieu. Heavenly gave me a hug; a real hug. Not the kind that some young girls might give a stranger. You know the type, the A-Frame—where only your shoulders touch, or the Side-Hug—where it is subtly non-committal. We all know of the Man-Hug—where were we men clasp hands first to put between us, and then slap each others back three times. No, Heavenly gave me a gift, she gave me a real squeezing, she gave me an “I care for you” hug. I felt loved. It was…Heavenly.