#40 In Roads-Art lover


It was a beautiful day along the Russian river. There are seals basking in the sun at the mouth of the river where it meets the sea and we stopped to soak up some salt air from the deck of a restaurant. We were headed inland and ready to call it a day. As we are going out, a man with a helmet is coming in. He holds the door for me. He has the most radiant smile and bright twinkling eyes.

“What are you riding?” I ask without even a flicker of shyness. He continues to hold the door open as he tells me he’s ridden his Kawasaki 650 KLR from Sacramento. It’s about a three-hour ride. He’s in a t-shirt and mentions what a beautiful day it is. I ask if I can take this picture and he smiles, not asking why. His enthusiasm is obvious and I think it’s about the ride until he starts spewing words.

“I’ve just bought my first piece of art,” he gushes. “I love this guy’s work and I want more. It’s Jack Cassinetto from Sonora. He’s got a lot of paintings from the valley and the coast and his work is just amazing. He went to Sacramento State and has painted all his life. He’s an older man, had throat cancer and used to paint in oils, but he uses acrylics now.” It’s interesting to listen to him talk about how the paintings affected him and to see the excitement radiating like an aura. I swear he was absolutely levitating. Watching his exuberance put a smile on my face, too. I ask his age and it takes him by surprise.

“Me? I’m 51 years old. At least for another 30 days, anyway.” I wish him a happy birthday and he laughs before I ask when he will head back home. “As soon as I get done eating. There’s plenty of time, it doesn’t get dark until 9 these days.” He raises an eyebrow and nods at the door that he is still holding open. I tell him my friends are waiting. I thank him for the conversation and turn to go. He lets the door go and reaches out his hand. “What was your name? I’m Tom,” he says. He repeats my name like it’s a magic word and smiles as he holds on to my hand. “It was very nice to meet you, Felicia. I hope to see you again sometime.” I felt myself turning red and suddenly had nothing more to say. I took my hand back and scurried out to the others.


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