Kindness Daily: Saga of a Blue Scarf

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Saga of a Blue Scarf December 21, 2011 – Posted by Paul Winter
Last December, following the Friday night performance of our Winter Solstice Celebration, my wife Chez had gone to the Cathedral parking lot to get some gear before taking a taxi to our hotel. When I finally got to the hotel a couple of hours later, Chez realized she was missing a small bag and was sure she’d left it on the ground outside the car. So I said I’d go back and look for it.

It was quite a dark and wintry night, and when I arrived back at the Cathedral around 1:30am, the whole area was deserted. I found the all-night security guard and asked him to unlock the gate to the parking lot for me. We walked back to Amsterdam Ave. and up past the front of the Cathedral to the north lot entrance. We were about 50 yards into the lot when we heard a woman’s voice calling to us: “Excuse me! Do you work here?” Both the guard and I were so surprised that at first neither of us responded, and then I called back, “Yes, I guess so.”

“I lost something after the concert tonight and I wanted to look for it where I had parked my car,” she said. “May I come in?”

“Yes, absolutely,” I said. “I’m looking for something too.”

I continued on to our car at the far end of the lot and saw no bag on the ground, so I opened the trunk and was happy to see the bag there, safely tucked inside.

I got the bag, and as I began walking back, I called across the lot to the woman: “Did you find what you were looking for?” And she replied, rather sadly, “No… and it was my favorite blue scarf.”

I expressed my sympathy and continued walking towards her. Then she said, “Wasn’t Paul Winter wonderful tonight! I’m from his home town.”

“You’re from Altoona?” I asked, and walked over to her, taking off my wool hat, so she might recognize me. When she saw my face, she just about fell over. “Oh my gosh, Paul! I can’t believe it’s you. I’m Dee Riley’s daughter, Marla, and I came to the concert tonight with some pictures I was hoping to show you.” (Marla’s late mother, Dee, was a great friend from Altoona who had collaborated with me in producing a big event celebrating the town’s sesquicentennial in 1999.)

We walked back out to Amsterdam Ave., marveling at the unlikely coincidence of both of us returning to this parking lot at the same time in the middle of the night. Under the streetlight, Marla showed me some wonderful photos from the Altoona event in ’99. Then we wished each other a happy solstice, and said goodnight, and I returned to the hotel with the wayward bag.

Chez was relieved to see me and the bag, and I proceeded to tell her this remarkable story of encountering someone from Altoona who had come back in search of her lost blue scarf. Chez immediately said, “Well, there’s a blue scarf over there on the table. Thea (our babysitter) found it on the front steps of the Cathedral as we were leaving, and I was going to take it to the lost-and-found tomorrow.”

I was undone. What are the chances of that? That from among the 2,000 people streaming out of the Cathedral after the concert, it would be Thea who happened to see the scarf and pick it up?

I had no doubt it was Marla’s scarf, and, when I mailed it to her, telling her the second chapter of this remarkable saga, she emailed back:

“Dear Paul. Today I will turn fifty, and I cannot think of a better gift than this fabulous story! It affirms my faith in the universe and makes me feel good all over!”

And there, in Marla’s warm words, was the beautiful message of winter solstice.

Happy New Year!

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