It was unlike any other day. I was taking a stroll on the banks of the river Isis in the Christ Church meadows. I paced up the last stretch of an avenue lined with beautiful English Elms that had shed much of its foliage. There was stillness and freshness in the lush green meadows. Along the Broad walk there are very few wooden benches. And on one of them, I noticed an old woman with a big white canvas spread over her lap. She wore a woolen cap, a sweater and a thick over coat to cover her fragile body from the cold of the Oxford winter. If not for all the paraphernalia spread around her on that bench, I would have passed her off as an old woman with dirty clothes who might ask for some spare change if you looked her way. I did look her way and she very gently asked “Are you from India ?”. I said “Yes” and there began a conversation that I will remember for a long time to come. I went nearer from where I got a closer look of the large canvas spread on her legs and held by her delicate wrinkled hands on which she was drawing beautiful, large pencil sketches of the big deciduous trees lined in front of her. As she made enquiries of what I study and how long I have been in the city, she told me she was herself an Economist who had devoted her recent life time drawing sketches of trees, writing stories and poetry around them and contributing in her own way to the literature on environmental issues. She told me she was a European of mixed ancestry. She was well read, philosophical, soft and bestows a memorable conversation. She also showed me her collection of books, poems and hand crafted cards with beautiful messages that she sells to passers-by. I bought one of them as a souvenir of the beautiful afternoon at the meadows, of the intelligent conversation in a chance encounter, of the perspective a stranger could offer me on life and of the gentleness in the simplicity of this old woman. She said “You have a gentle soul” and I acknowledged her with a smile. Zoe Peterssen was her name.