In one of the guest rooms my dear hostess and her assistant J. were saying goodbye to Swedish ethnographic photographer and world traveler Marianne Greenwood, who was departing for the airport. Her bags were already in the lobby, and, after a flurry of thank yous and kisses and hugs, Greenwood disappeared into the elevator.
Back in her office my dear hostess asked me to get all the mounted photos Greenwood had left in the other room for her. So I fetched them--a couple dozen 16 x 20 and 11 x 16 color prints mounted on surprisingly light foam core boards. Each bore a handwritten title and Greenwood’s signature in blue felt-tipped pen. They were an eclectic collection of images of the Amazon jungle, blow gun hunters on the various islands of Oceania, monasteries and monks in Tibet, Southwest US Native Americans, and various other exotic scenes.
My dear hostess inspected each one. At her direction J. and I put them either into the yes or the no pile. At the end, there was only one in yes, and the rest in no. “I can’t collect much now,” she said.
J., she said, must take two of the big ones for herself, and of course J. excitedly went through them. “No, you must take three,” she said. So J. picked another one. Then, she turned to me and said, “Now, darling, it’s your turn.”
“Thank you, but I don’t think it would be a good idea,” I said, “because they’ll likely get damaged on my trip back to Italy.”
“If you take a couple of the smaller ones, darling, they won’t.”
So I rapidly flipped through the feather light boards. I liked a portrait of a bare breasted young native girl on one of the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea. The other I selected was of a dark-skinned girl washing clothes in Vanuatu, formerly New Hebrides.
“Well,” I said, “I’m getting out of here before this wonderful woman changes her mind.”
J. smiled. “She’s so generous, isn’t she?”
I bent over, put my arm around my dear hostess’ shoulders, kissed her forehead, and caressed her back. “Indeed she is.”