My husband and I are in Banff for a few days. The kids are with my parents and Lyndon and I are spending some quiet time together. And I do mean quiet. Banff, by Banff standards, is practically deserted. Several stores have closed or are in the process of closing since we were here last. The economy?

Poor Lyndon is sick, though. He has been fighting a cold for a while. Today he surrendered and has spent most of his time in bed, sleeping lots with the help of some cool, drowsy-making drugs. So I have been on my own.

I took a long walk this morning, following the Bow River to the bridge. There were geese everywhere, enjoying the sun like the rest of us. I wandered in and out of some shops, bought the book The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud (Giller winner), and ended up at the food court in the mall for a few hours – reading, writing a bit,  and people-watching …

… A few tables from me, a young woman cries into her cell phone. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” she says, over and over. Finally, she clicks her phone shut, blows her nose in her napkin, and walks away.

… An Asian (is it politically correct to say Asian?) family sits at another table. The oldest man does most of the talking. He looks very wise and Sensei-ish to me. Why is it that elderly Asian men look so wise?

… A trio of young girls ask the man at the table next to me to take a picture of them. They pose in front of the ski display, and giggle as they thank him after.

… A tiny woman circles the food court, gathering trays and garbage and straightening chairs. I try to catch her eye and smile each time she passes, but she ignores me.

… A grandma walks by holding a little girl by the hand, assuring her over and over that Mommy will be back soon.

… A baby screams while his mother tries to settle him into his stroller. The cries end abruptly as soon as she starts pushing.

My table wobbles as I write. The smell of curry from the Sri Lankan food booth mingles with the sounds of many accents and languages. Young people rush by in their ski wear and woolen toques with over-sized pom poms bouncing on the tops of their heads. I think about my kids and look forward to seeing them tomorrow.

I wonder, as I gather my things and walk back to the hotel, what the young woman was so sorry about.

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