I used to spy with my little eye an older gentleman, walking up and down my street on his way to and from the market. His gait was painfully slow and difficult to watch. If I was outside as he passed, Blain would say hello, offer a pleasantry, and generally be neighborly in what now seems like an old-fashioned way. He once told me he was 77, but his body always seemed much more worn down than that. Often, when I saw him turning the corner on his way home, I would join him for the last hilly stretch of his trip, carrying his bags and offering an arm to lean on for the occasional breather. We would talk about the neighborhood, about how the students drive far too fast over the crest of the hill, and, naturally, about the nature of New England weather.
I didn't see him last winter. I kept hoping he would take up his walks again over the summer, but maybe I missed him. Now, the leaves are almost all down, and the weatherman is talking about snow squalls and flurries again. It's been almost a year, and I haven't seen my old friend.