Jack Balas, 2020; CACTUS FLOWERS (#1892); Watercolor, acrylic and India ink on paper, 22x30 inches

The cactus flowers are coming out, pink and lemon and tangerine skins swarmed by bees and protected by needles. I've been doing what I call Corona walks, what with the virus going around this last month keeping everyone at home or inside. I'm out on a street I've never walked down before, looking at these flowers and small brick houses and trunks of palm trees, when there on one corner are two college boys shirtless in the morning sun, working out with weights and a bench in their front yard, doing dips on the chainlink gate. I had to laugh at myself, how all my thoughts got short-circuited. The university has been closed for a month and students were asked to leave town if they could, but here were two left, and I made myself ask innocent questions about their gear as I passed, and careful to swing by around as I went home. But today I had to go back to prove it could be done, and sure enough they were nowhere to be seen, so I was able to return to looking at houses and tree trunks and even cactus flowers, equally stunning and just as untouchable.