The most interesting person in the square was someone wearing a white cashmere coat over a dark red blouse with a floppy red bow at the neck. Perched on their head was a matching red fedora-like hat. I thought the outfit showed a lot of personality and a certain unwillingness to dress to convention.
The person had a closely trimmed beard and clutched a large brown handbag.
“Excuse me,” I said to them, after tapping them on the shoulder. “I’m a photographer from Ottawa. I love your outfit. Would I be able to take your picture?”
The person looked at me, surprised. But they nodded and gave me a guarded smile. “Sure.”
I thanked them and asked their name.
I nodded, giving them a genuine smile. “Nice to meet you, Martha. I’m Carson.”
Martha nodded, still seeming wary.
“You’re fine right where you are, Martha. Just be yourself.”
At that, Martha laughed, seeming to let down their guard finally. “Oh, that is who I always am, I’m afraid. I can’t seem to help it!”
I took some shots of them, and smiled. “It shows. I really like your outfit.”
The wariness came back. “You’re not making fun of me, are you? Setting me up for some kind of joke?”
I lowered my camera and shook my head. “No, I’m not. I think you have more personality in your little finger than most of the people here. I wanted to capture it.”
They stared at me, and a small smile finally broke on their friendly face. “Thank you. It’s been a long time since someone gave me a compliment.”
They shrugged. “I guess my expectations of people have been lowered since I started dressing the way I want. Living the way I want.”
I looked at them with sympathy. “That’s a real shame.”
“Yes, it is. But thank you for renewing my hope in people.”
“Would you like me to send you a copy of the photos, Martha?”
“Yes, I’d love that!”
We exchanged contact info and parted with a warm handshake. I left the encounter with a lighter heart and some fantastic photos on my camera.