"Nice job," she offered and I jumped in response as I was putting my camera back in my pocket. I turned to apologize, assuming I'd done something wrong - that the tip of my flip flop got too far on church grounds or that I'd blocked her path when I rejoined the pedestrians on the sidewalk. While I sorted through what I did to deserve the sarcastic statement, I looked at her - a tall woman around my age who was far prettier than I - to find her smiling brightly at me. I let my lips curve tentatively in return, generally happy to smile at people, even when confused.
"You got the light," she explained, tilting her head toward the flowers I'd paused to photograph, the setting sun illuminating them from the west and casting interesting shadows.
"Oh," I said, beginning to relax even as I trotted to keep up with her. "It's most interesting in the morning and evening," I offered. "But it changes so quickly that it's more luck than skill to catch the right moment."
"But you did," she smiled. "My roommate and I live near here and we've kept track of the church gardens." Then she started naming flowers and when they had begun blooming, carefully tended by the church staff. "I didn't know those had gotten so full," she explained, "but I stopped when I saw you taking the picture and it was a moment of real beauty - the way the sun hit the flowers and the colors against the stone walls. Great photo."
I thanked her and nodded when she said she'd have to bring her roommate back and try to catch the light again. Then I waved as she sped her strides again, wishing me a good evening as she went toward home and I wandered to meet my dinner companions.
As is typical, I was earlier than my group and felt moderately guilty about taking up a prime table for 4 when those without reservations were being turned away. Deciding to take a lesson from my flower friend, I attempted to relax and enjoy the moment. I ordered a champagne cocktail to sip while I waited, the peach flavor that made it a bellini offering a hint of sweetness to the bubbly drink.
While I waited and sipped, I pulled my camera from my pocket and examined the display. It was a pretty photo, I decided, but the white flowers were too bright. People who are happy, I decided, would likely tell me it was a decent effort - enjoy the colors and contrast, thinking it lovely that someone had paused to chat in the shadows of an old church. I'm happy, I realized, grinning at my waiter when he brought bread and telling him the drink was perfect. Then I resolved to express that more effectively.