This painting makes me think of those special moments we share with our children when they are little and so new to the big wide, thrilling world around them.
Like the time my daughter and I sat on a beach together at the very tip of Africa where the gently temperate Indian Ocean meets the ferocious and frigid Atlantic. We watched as an ungainly pelican pottering drunkenly along the shoreline suddenly opened his wings and took flight. I remember her excited intake of breath as he soared in precise and elegant circles overhead and then like an acrobat, swooped down in a graceful arc to catch his dinner.
Those joyful moments of discovery when paddling through the shallows hand in hand, we spot the luminescent pink interior of a perfect conch shell lying in the sand at our feet. I can recall so clearly her look of surprised delight when she put the giant shell to her tiny ear and listened to the swishing, echoic sibilance of the sea.
Moments when you see that glowing look of triumph when she accomplishes something momentous. It may have been when she finally reaches the topmost branch when climbing a tree, or riding her bike for the very first time without support. Maybe it was when she swam a whole length underwater, or when she shoved fear aside and dived from the highest board.
Those moments when she cups a butterfly in her hand before letting it go in that wide gesture of freedom. Or perhaps that moment when she watched a foal being born – a sweet mixture of slight repugnance and wonderment on her face.
That moment when, together, you laugh so hard at the antics of a mischievous vervet monkey that your tummies hurt. Those moments on the boat, with the wind filling the sails, the water flashing diamonds as it skims the prow and you turn to each other and just smile at the heady exhilaration of it all.
Those moments when she is tucked up in bed, all shiny and clean and sleepy. Pink-cheeked from a day in the sun, she snuggles up close as you sit beside her to read a bedtime story. Halfway through, you look down and see dark eyelashes fluttering as she drifts off happily to dreamland.