Swimming into Summer

Koi Study No. 7 (50 x 50cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

Like most mornings, I walk to the bottom of my garden with a sense of purpose.

The winter garden has now thawed, and I feel the sun coaxing me out of my dormancy long before I step outside. I gingerly step as to not disturb the chatty birds or the wandering bees. I begin in my slippers, but the temptation to feel the grass underfoot soon becomes a compulsion. I enjoy the tickling sensation on the soles of my feet, and being connected to my surroundings.

I finally get to the fish pond and struggle to make out the dull, distant shapes. I too enjoy the immersion of the water, often thinking to my childhood summers of white sands and clear waters. My eyes scan the water’s surface, as I sprinkle a thin layer of fish food and wait. I watch the orange blur at the bottom of the fish pond manifest into the koi fish who snap up their breakfast hungrily.

The interaction is soothing for me, as a simple relationship which requires so little. In exchange, I receive a private performance of twirling orange bodies reflected in the tumultuous water. The tiny dancers are aware of their talents, and they never fail to parade their beauty for my own enchanted eyes.

**Article continued on Page Two**

Up The Garden Path

Up The Garden Path (30x40cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

There is nothing quite like the sheer panic of forgetting someone’s birthday, more specifically a birthday card, to truly mark the occasion.

Luckily, an artist works well under stress. As someone so often used to the pressures of meeting deadlines for clients, she quickly make haste; She grabs her art supplies and throw them down onto her work surface with an anticipatory thud.

This is no regular client, and there has been no debrief in this instance. But with her husband as the recipient, she knows him well enough to paint something of his taste.

Using a piece of paper, easily folded into a card, the artist begins to plot her canvas just in time for this important day. In her mind, she fondly envisions the summer garden.

The buzzing bees and singing birds are an orchestra in this quiet corner of the countryside. The wild flowers grow with such a vigour, they often overstep into the pathway. This is the pathway which the artist’s husband will walk after the working day. Crunching gravel underfoot, the bright bulbs are thrust forward by the wind and kiss his feet. The artist imagines his pace quicken upon his excitement of seeing balloons, or a colourful banner in the archway perhaps; His mind is animated with what surprises may be awaiting behind the front door of their home.

The artist plays out this warm and happy scene inside her head as she paints. Almost as if the mental image has been scanned onto the paper, it is complete. The artist reviews the finished birthday card, with the long, overreaching stems of the flowers and the path seemingly built around them. With dots of sapphire and rouge to imitate their swaying, she leaves the darkened doorway, as the beautiful, ambiguous end of one’s journey up the garden path.

**Article continues on Page Two**

Restless Orange in the Calm Blue: A Koi Fish Study

Koi Study No. 10 (50 x50cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

During the winter months, I cocoon myself in fluffy and fur-lined clothing, with a tangerine orange scarf wrapped around my neck. Before I leave the house, I can already hear the chilling gust of wind whistling through the trees, as their branches tap impatiently on the windowpane. I see it as my invitation to come outside, my gloved hand opening the door.

I step from the cold, hard tiles of my kitchen onto the soft, damp grass. I cross my arms as I walk, wrapping my coat around myself even tighter. With my winter boots on, I look downward and imagine my toes sinking with each step, barefoot as I was in summer.

I finally reach the bottom of my garden and sit down on the welcoming, ligneous bench. In enduring the elements, the splintering paintwork reveals the aged wooden planks underneath, encased by steely iron arms. Once raised from the ground and in prime position, I take the fish food from my pocket, sprinkling it over the surface of the pond.

I stare into the deep, petrol blue water, overshadowed by the stirring trees, and search for a reassurance of life.

I begin to make out shapes of orange before the koi fish reach the surface, slowly then all at once, their mouths open to feed. My eyes flicker between each fish, watching their rhythmic tails dance with excitement. Their eager movements disturb the once still water, creating vast ripples which travel to the edge of the pond.

I may battle against a bitter breeze as I return home, but my soul is warmed by feelings of contentment and relief.

**Article continued on page 2**