I was twelve-years old that summer Kahlil came to the island and swept in like some large and vibrant bird.
His antics were gentle but it was clear that he was unlike the other adults we knew. He played like a kid, shooting chimneys with his flashlight at night for our amazement.
He talked about things that no other adult seemed to know.
It was Jimmy who took me down to the camp on the beach to meet with Kahlil.
It was Jimmy who I followed around that summer, sketchbook in hand for drawing lessons. We sat for hours in the woods drawing trees, he showed me how to make a shadow wrap around to create a volume.
It was Jimmy who went around that summer in broad brimmed straw hat like he was a Frenchman. He was an artist right out of central casting, baggy pants rolled up at the cuffs, bunched at the waist. Am I right in remembering a smock?
He carried his materials out, along with an easel and spent his days in the open air wherever his fancy took him.
I followed him like a small dog that suspected there were crumbs to be had.
One day he took me down to the house on the shingle beach, to meet Kahlil.
Jimmy, a promising art student, followed Kahlil around like a small dog that knew there were crumbs. He saw the feast laid out on the table.
Our meeting was a lesson. Kahlil had a book called the Natural way to Draw and he told me to work from it everyday.
I got the book and it had helpful advice and mysterious advice, like trying to draw objects as if you could see them from the other side.
The meeting was also a lesson in respect and the chain of command through the arts. Jimmy respected Kahlil, and Kahlil, Jimmy. They both showed me that this was a worthy path to step onto.
There is a small meadow at the top of the hill that Jimmy’s father keeps mowed, where Jimmy would have built his studio.
The last time I saw Jimmy he still wore a hat, but possibly to cover thinning hair.
After he died, in a skiing accident, I wrote to his sister with my memories of him, of drawing in the woods that summer.
In the end the grass grows over times past.