Vignettes: 1) “Regina”

Rich mahogany hair has been carefully brushed and arranged. Three tight ringlets fall from a large blue satin ribbon, to frame the side of her beautiful , 12 year old face.  A lavender wisteria vine adorns a white trellis behind the large lawn chair on which Regina and her little sister Claire sit together, posing. Claire squints, because the sun is bright, but Mama wants her to turn this way, so that the photographer can get every detail. Regina ironed the white dresses this morning, after making them damp by flinging starch water all over them, and then wringing them out in little balls, and shaking them free.  For the last hour she has positioned herself on the chair so as not to cause rumples, but now she is tired, and hardly cares.  The girls are getting their portraits done this morning. It will be the boys’ turn, this afternoon, after a nice picnic lunch. Impish Claire is wiggling and making funny faces. She sits in front of Regina, who smiles in patience and total love. The photograph captures that beautiful, loving smile.  Little Claire is not squinting, but wide-eyed: transfixed by a swallowtail butterfly flitting above the photographer’s head. He does not know the butterfly is there, as he is bent over, intently peering into the lens. The whole camera, along with the man’s head, is covered by a large, dark cloth.

(That was many bright sunrays, ago, and many annual growths of the wisteria vine ago. That vine was replaced by a spreading pink rose bush, now of very ancient flowering, itself. Claire’s daughter, a mother of her own grown daughter, shows the picture to her little golden-haired granddaughter, and together they imagine that day.)351

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