Thursday, 8 August 2013
The barista with whom I began this year's stay in Victoria is there this morning, cooing over a visiting dog on the patio. A few minutes later, as I wait for my order, she's bubbling excitedly to the young man who is creating a beautiful pattern on my caffe mocha in chocolate syrup: "I get to take care of two little weiner dogs! It's my very first dog-sitting job!" Then she excitedly outlines her dream of getting a cat: "I'll call him Toulouse just so I can call 'Tou-looooose!"
Her companion frowns slightly but continues his deft strokes across the foamed milk. "Uh, I'm not sure I get that," he says. "Try spelling it?"
I grin at him. "Toulouse-Lautrec," I explain. "The really short French artist from the nineteenth century."
The bubbling barista gapes at me in delighted astonishment. "Are you kidding? I was thinking about Toulouse in The Aristocats; y'know, the kitten who paints with his paws?"
"Wow! Can you spell that?"
"Wow! I never knew that!"
I sit outside, reading the local paper and watching people stroll up and down Cook Street. Some are walking dogs; others are clearly on their way to work. I silently envy them for living here, as I used to do. (Live here, I mean.) I can't stay long. The Resident Fan Boy is helping younger daughter pack and Demeter is fixing breakfast before we leave her to head to the airport. Reluctantly, I rise and take my mug back.
Bubbling Barista beams at me.
"Thanks for telling me about the artist!"
I wave genially. "Toulouse-Lautrec," I remind her. "Look up his work. He was good."
I walk out into the morning sunshine. I only look back once.