She pointed at a yard across the street from us. There were three tables set up on the lawn with wild roses in vases on the center table. There was a sign, it said: "free books."
We walked over and browsed the titles. I felt like I was in an outdoor used bookstore, complete with the musty, comforting smell of books that have stayed in one place for some time. We never saw the people who owned these books, but I was able to draw some conclusions about them based on their reading preferences: history, religion, Robert Ludlum. I picked up a collection of letters, a Puritan journal, a guide to inns from the early 1900's written with lovely (if perhaps excessive) use of adjectives and a work of fiction I brought along solely for the dedication: "To Alfred McIntyre in memory of all the trips we have taken together over the rough roads of fiction."
Alison and I walked the 18 blocks home, laden with books, panting in the sun, knowing that it was worth it.
Many thanks to the lovely people, who provided this marvelous serendipity.