She didn’t tell me her name and I didn’t give her mine. She’d walked up to the bench I was sitting on at Powells Bookstore, killing time until I met a friend for dinner, and she waited until I looked up.

“Are those your books? Is it OK if I move them?” She was about 50, a well-dressed blonde with a stack of cookbooks. I assured her that the books weren’t mine, and she pushed them aside to sit. She opened the first cookbook and I went back to my magazine.

At some point I noticed her pages hadn’t turned in awhile and I glanced up to find her staring at me. “Excuse me,” she smiled, “I really love your coat. The colors are so cheerful, just right for your skin.”

“Thanks,” I said, “My mother made it.”

Her eyes brightened, and she moved closer on the bench. “Do you mind if I look?” I slipped it off and handed it to her. (Just for the record, the coat is gorgeous–Mom made it from this nubbly wool or angora or something, full-length saffron and gold plaid with a sapphire lining)

“Your mother must love you very much if she sews for you,” she said softly, “My mother never sewed for me.” She stroked the fabric, staring at the bookshelves. “Of course, we were never very close. Excuse me.”

She walked away, leaving her books behind.