Late Saturday morning, we set off to the Gatineau Park for a lunch time hike. We parked at P7, Kingsmere, and hike along Ridge Road to Keogan Hut. I’d brought along a toasted sandwich with leftover Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf (topped with cheese, spinach and tomato) wrapped in tinfoil, baby carrots, yogurt and clementines.

I didn’t used to like hiking at this time of year because the fall colours are all gone. But this year, the ground has been relatively dry and the fall sun is warm on your back when you need it. The other bonus is that the Gatineau parkways are now closed, so it’s serious hikers only, especially when you get deeper into the park.

As we descending down the path to Keogan, I could see the smoke coming from the chimney. Yes! We would be able to have toasted sandwiches! And a group of teenagers, who looked like they were training for crosscountry skiing, was just leaving the hut. I lit the leftover candles by our table and took out lunch from the backpack. NosyNeighbour went out back to chop up some wood. He loves to firefuck. But who doesn’t when you’ve given up a wood fireplace for a gas one?

So with the sandwiches warming up on the woodstove, we started to eat the trailmix and then the carrots. The outside door creaked open, then the inner one. In walked a lone man. He sauntered over to the other side of the room, swung up a leg over the bench, then sat down.

After a few moments of silence, we struck up a conversation. He was from Texas. It was completely unexpected. Maybe in the thick of the Fall Rhapsody, but mid-November?

In fact, he had moved from Texas to Sherbooke, but hadn’t found work. So he came to Ottawa, where he still couldn’t find work. So he decided he needed to learn French and enrolled in a college. I’m sure you’re wondering why a Texan would move to cold Canada without a job lined up. I know I was curious.

It turns out his extended family was from the Sherbrooke area. His parents had moved to Texas so he’d never learned French. Spanish would be the more obvious choice of a second language in that part of the USA. He went to Bishops for university and now that he was divorced and his son an adult, he decided to make a fresh start. I wonder if he’ll have a drawl when he speaks French?