I walked to the Post Office with our old dog Lucky yesterday.
(Let me interrupt my story here to tell you that drawing these little pictures of Lucky created in me a mad urge to drop everything I am doing and make a little animated movie of Lucky walking. (click on the link — I did it!)
We were nearly there when I saw, in the alley ahead of us, a cactus in a metal half-barrel on wheels. There was another tub on wheels, too, with another kind of plant, a lavender. But this is northern Michigan. We have lavender. The cactus was the intriguing one. It was not one of those tiny ones you get in a souvenir shop. It was sizeable. The two tubs were just outside the open doors of a big garage. We stopped to look, and their owner came out of the garage.
“Do you like my cactus?” he asked. He told us it was a “something-something cactus.” (Actually, he said “Nopales.” I didn’t quite catch it at the time, but I looked it up later.) He said it was the kind of cactus they make cactus tacos out of.
“I didn’t know they made cactus tacos!” I said.
He said they also make CACTUS SMOOTHIES. Is that an oxymoron, or a paradox, or what?!
Here are two pictures:
The first has just the cactus and the lavender in their tubs. The second has Lucky in the foreground, looking at the cactus with interest. When you put something, a figure or an object, in the foreground of a picture this way, it is called “repoussoir.” It’s from a French word that means “to push;” putting this thing in the foreground pushes back the rest of the picture and makes us experience the space in a different way. If it is a person (or a dog), it also can create a little bit of a story. And if we follow the line of sight of the dog, which we do without realizing it, that leads us into the heart of the action.
Aside from French words about the composition of pictures, my husband, Bill, says, “Pictures are always more interesting if there is a person (or a dog) in them.” What do you think?
And one more picture: I don’t think this is what cactus tacos really look like. But it’s the picture that popped into my mind when Nick said it.