Initiator: Judy Feins – Sleepy Geese, San Pablo Reservoir


Initiator Artist: Judy Feins
Artwork Title: Sleepy Geese, San Pablo Reservoir
Size: 16 x 20″
Medium: Oil on board
Price: $925

Responder Author: Stephanie Denman
Writing Title: Troubled Waters
Price: NFS

Grandma, her favorite son, his wife and their two teens, stared at the lake troubled.

“Now what do we do?!” the teen boy whaled. Uncertainty unsettled him.

“Well, I guess we make like ducks and sit,” said the daughter-in-law, trying to lighten the mood.

“Geese,” the husband corrected.

An hour before, the lake had been an enchanting, glistening pool, sparkling in the late July sunlight. The family had enjoyed a leisurely lunch at a charming lakeside café. The grownups savored Spaghetti alle Vongole and Sauvignon Blanc. The teens slurped Spaghetti Marinara while staring at their phones. After lunch, they ordered gelatos from the gelateria on the promenade. Pointing to the mountains of colorful ice cream, they chose flavors that sounded like operas in the singsong voices of the servers. Fior di Latte, Amarena, Cioccolata; Vanilla, Cherry and Chocolate never sounded so poetic.

The family allowed extra time to stroll down the hill to the ferry so as not to rush Grandma who was wearing strappy sandals instead of her Skechers to look suitable in this chic village.

When they’d reached the ferry terminal, the daughter-in-law doublechecked the schedule while the rest of the family staked out places on nearby benches. Plenty of time before the last boat to the town where they’d rented an apartment. The family sat overlooking the parking lot, inhaling the mix of exhaust from idling cars and boat fuel. They watched their ferry arrive and the ferrymen usher off the occupants. Returning day trippers and locals shuffled down the drawbridge while Fiats and Alpha Romeos inched along in line like ants.

In the absence of a loading announcement, the daughter-in-law decided to mosey to the boat to verify the embarkment time. Mid parking lot, she saw the barrier starting to come down on the loading ramp.

“Hey, hey!” she yelled at the ferrymen, picking up her pace. If they heard her, they ignored her.

The family heard her shouting and started running toward the barrier with her.

“Stop! Wait, we have tickets!” they yelled.

One of the ferrymen finally turned around and hollered “Finito!”

“But, but the boat isn’t supposed to leave for another five minutes!” the daughter-in-law said raising her arm and stabbing her pointer finger at her watch for emphasis. “This is our last one!”

The ferryman shrugged and turned back to face the boat, which was starting to churn up water as it revved its engines.

Suddenly, grandma ducked under the barrier and started running up the drawbridge holding her floppy hat with one hand and shaking the other hand like a wild tambourine. Her sandals slapped and slipped as she charged up the rising ramp. The family watched with a mix of horror and wonder.

“Oh my God! Grandma! What are you doing? Stop!”

The ferryman turned around. Surely, he would take pity on the mature – perhaps demented by the looks of it – woman and let the family aboard.

“Finito,” he said instead, shooing her away. “Take the next one.”

The ferry pulled away and slowly turned toward the family’s vacation town, which they could practically see from here. The schedule showed the next boat departing in two hours, but it would be going to a town further down the lake from theirs. The only alternative was a multi-hour taxi ride around the lake.

The family glowered at the oily, vast chasm that separated them from their beds and belongings and cursed the miserable ferryman who clearly hated tourists.

Looking at the birds lazing on shore, the daughter-in-law couldn’t help thinking their goose was cooked.

“Geese,” she chuckled.

© 2023 Stephanie Denman