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Once or twice a week I cycle on the back roads past an old farm. There is a white clapboard house with laundry hanging on the line, a decrepit swing set. They have one of those inflatable blue pools. There are no annuals hanging in baskets and no attempt at landscaping.

The barn is close to the road and active. Cows nestle close to the fence.They stare me directly in the eye.

Often when I ride by, whether early in the morning, or following an afternoon rain, there is a woman is sitting on her front lawn, reading at a table. She is thick waisted, and dyed blond hair swept up in a ponytail, often she is wearing a bathrobe. As I glide towards that corner, I always hope she will be there. She never looks up.

I wonder why this woman's frequent presence is a comfort to me. I like not getting to know her. She provides a soothing contrast to the highly productive people I know. They seem to acquire doctorates on weeknights, complete renovations on the weekend.

I imagine she doesn't see herself sinking into a chair with a book as an act of goodwill. How could she know that, somehow, she might make my day.

How little we know.

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