Abigaille had been called blowsy once, by a cadaverous young Japanese poet she met one late September in Bowness-on-Windermere, whose collection of haiku—thrust at her in a mustard colored folder outside the steamboat museum—she had declined to read and critique. But she was more fit now after a winter of Pilates and a few spring months of helping Richard Carpenter pile up his dry stone wall. She admired her almost-trim, muscular body as she dried off after her bath. It felt good being two sizes smaller, fitting again after thirty-some years into corduroys, denims, dungarees, not just the loose smocks she was used to wearing.
The Japanese man had been a member of his country’s Arthur Ransome Club, and come on an excursion to the lake to visit the “Rio” of the Swallows and Amazons series they admired so fanatically. The setting of his little haiku collection, he’d blurted out as soon as he had found out who she was. He’d been strangely ready for conflict, stubborn and rude and argumentative, when she had stood her ground. When the folder had fallen to the ground between them.