Visiting old Montreal today, and while standing outside the IGA grocery with my dog, Satchel, I caught the eye of a couple sharing the chill breeze for a smoke.
He looked a little like Joe Cocker in his heyday, wavy gray hair hanging down to his shoulders. She was blonde, a little pudgy, and smiled easily.
The gent eyed Satchel, made a few comments in French, and because I understood not a vowel, I nodded. He realized the language of incomprehension, and switched to broken English.
We talked about the dog and his mixed ancestry. He asked if we brushed him. The he commented on his wavy hair.
“Like yours,” I said.
He smiled, and asked our purpose. I explained our desire to “leaf peep” the fall colors, extending south from here to Vermont.
He told me we should slide east, through the White Mountains. Somewhere in the chat, I mentioned that we had come here from Oregon for that very purpose.
“Oh, I was a windsurfer,” he said. “I used to go to the Columbia River Gorge.”
“That’s where we live,” I said, always happy to find shared paths. “I still windsurf.”
He said he had quit, 20 years earlier, after moving back to Quebec and finding the inconsistent wind too much of a frustration. He said he never took up kiteboarding, because he liked to go out into the middle of the lake, instead of sliding along the shallows.
“So I quit, and I took up drinking,” he said, with a wry smile.
He smoothed his hand over his rounded abdomen and smiled.
“I have to go,” he said, stubbing out his cigarette and aiming toward the door. “Enjoy your time here.”
“We will,” I said. “And are. Thank you.”