Manolo – Pencil, watercolor – 8.5 x 11 inches.

Manolo – Pencil, watercolor – 8.5 x 11 inches.

Even if you are not a fan of baseball, it might be a good idea to pay attention to the thoughts of two philosophers who happened to play the game. For example, Yogi Berra, legendary catcher for the New York Yankees, joined a pantheon of Zen masters when he advised the following: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Satchel Paige, legendary pitcher for several teams, also offered good insights: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” I accepted this sage-Paige advice with little question until a few days ago, when by chance, I found a drawing of a friend in an old sketchbook.

Looking over the shoulder: During my forty years of adventures on other sides of the world, Spain has gifted me with many guides. Manolo was the first to offer insights into the grammatical pitfalls of irregular verbs and the subjunctive voice, as well as my guide into the customs and culture of his country, and Valencia, his city: food, films, the history of wars and politics, street life, more wars, music, more politics, wine, weekends on Mediterranean beaches, and the companionship of being a fellow artist. We have spent many happy hours drawing and paining landscapes together. Most importantly, he and his wife Toti and their daughter Elena, another fellow artist, opened the arms of their family and friends to me.

So yes, memories of Manolo have been “gaining” on me. They have caught up to me now in an autumn when an upcoming exhibition and a book launch confine me in California. He and I and our other Valencian friends and guides are entering the last chapters of our lives, so it is about time we catch up with each, other again. Even so, catching up now, in words only, doesn’t seem to be soon enough.

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