There’s an old man who sits in my local coffee shop all day. I probably didn’t notice him the first few times I ran in for a latte, but I bet he was there. He’s always there. Reading a newspaper and holding a pen, sometimes making notes in the margins. He wears thin silver glasses, wispy white hairs, a navy blue sport coat over a blue striped shirt and a navy blue ascot around his neck. I think that’s what made me notice him, at first – the ascot. I didn’t think much about him, initially. Just, you know, cool ascot. But the coffee shop days wore on, and I started noticing.
I noticed that he likes ginger cookies. His thin lips rarely smile, and his Roman nose is always gloriously beet red. His thin pocket square slumps down in his breast pocket like a deflated dream, barely visible except when he leans over his paper to catch the small print. He’s always getting up and sitting back down, teetering around the coffee shop with a slow purpose, it seems. He chews with his mouth wide open and throws stray pastry crumbs on the ground. He’s got lots of stray crumbs.
This man often makes me smile, as I sit and work and sip. He also makes me sad. Who is this man? What are his stories? Why does he sit in this coffee shop, day after day, wearing his sport coat and ascot? What is he writing in those margins? Letters? Short stories? Nothing at all?
I don’t know. He interests me. I hope his life is happy. I hope he’s got a nice family. Somehow, I’m not sure that’s true. Watching him makes me thankful for my own life, loves, family. I guess that’s all I really mean to say.
All of which has nothing to do with this cheesy leek and Delicata squash tart, except that I made it for my love of a sister, who was here visiting over the weekend. We ate it warm for dinner alongside bowls of creamy carrot potato soup, then snacked on it cold the next day, like leftover pizza. It’s definitely better warm, but when you’re snacking and gossiping with your visiting little sister, it turns out it doesn’t much matter.