You never know what may happen at a conference. I have arranged to have a meal with some people after their Tolkien marathon (reading from The Two Towers uninterrupted for several hours). After I have waited for 45 minutes I realise that the reading might go on forever and I'd better look for another company. I walk around a bit, go out to the pool bar, hoping to spot someone I vaguely know. As I re-enter the restaurant, two gentlemen wave at me (this is the advantage of being a guest of honour - they know who I am) and invite me to join them, which I happily do. Both are veterans, have attended every conference from start and share memories. Then one of them must leave, and I assume we are breaking up, but the other gentleman seems to be willing to stay. We continue the conversation. It turns out we both enjoy teaching online and exchange ideas and experiences. In fact, he teaches children's literature, which is the least I would expect (typical prejudice). I mention San Diego where I taught my first online course. He has lived in San Diego for twelve years. We delve deeper into memories. He is a bird-watcher. We start an initiated discussion of a particular bird reserve south of Imperial Beach and the seasonal changes in bird population.
Next day, in my email box, I find a gorgeous photo of a blue heron.