I spent my last evening in Morro Bay helping at a community dimmer. The town is small, about the same size as the town I resided in for the past year. A small town of 10,000 with a very laid back artsy atmosphere. California has a systemic homeless problem. The world on this end of the United States is warm. Its liberal and accepting. Homeless folks fare better here than in cold climes. Homeless people living on the street seems to be something easily gotten used to. It is an image that horrifies the first few times it is observed, but a sense of complacency builds as one begins to notice that it is EVERYWHERE. What am I supposed to do about it as a passerby? I can’t stop and help all of them.
The community dinner I’m talking about is scheduled for every Monday. A group of well meaning volunteers get together and fix food up for whomever wishes to come and partake. The food is paid for by a grant the. My friend, Karen, in Morro Bay is one of the volunteers. My last night in Morro Bay was a Monday. When Karen asked if I wanted to come I was excited, and said. The idea of helping out at a community dinner sounded wonderful to me. When we arrived I found that my help actually seemed unnecessary, the vetran volunteers cleary had a handle on the situation. I helped anyway. I layed hotdog buns out on a tray. I tossed one of the three salads that were made up. I opened a few jars for the woman in charge of the dinner, her hands were arthritic and mine were not. I washed four dishes. I served up some dumpcake in preparation for the arrival of the dinner attendees, and then I stood around. I chose to stand behind the desert section since it was near me and hand out the cake. It turned out that there were two of us behind the cakes and my help was somewhat on the unnecessary side. Someone endeed up bringing me a box of assorted cookies later on so handing those out became my, self-professed, job. I didn’t mind being basically useless, an extra bump on a log on an otherwise asthetitcally bumped log. It seemed that one extra bump, one extra happy face standing behind the tables filled with food, couldn’t hurt.
I was told to smile and offer kind words to the people who came in, so that’s what I did. The number of people who came to the dinner was somewhere near fifty. Some of those fifty appeared homeless, others just appeared to be down and out. Some of the people were disabled in one way or the other, and I assumed, some of the guests just came for the company they had become accustomed to at the Monday night dinner. They best thing was the smiles and kind words I received from across the table. The people were grateful for their full plates and were grateful for the top off I gave in the form of a cookie. My silly sense of humor seemed appreciated and people smiled back at me. People offered me kind words and smiles.
It was different looking at the disinfranchised from the angle I was at. I was handing them food, I wasn’t just walking past them on the street. It is a totally different vantage point from which to see the world. Helping and smiling, not passing and pitying.
I saw a hawk yesterday. If you read the last post you know that the humming birds are known to frequent the feeders here. There are many many of them. Hummingbirds are always a treat for me. In Minnesota they seem so distant, so foriegn. I always see them like the top off of a cookie at the end of agood meal. Something to be excited about. Now, in Oceanside California, the excitement is a constant hum, because I look out the window and see one, and then another appears and eventually there have been five fluttering around. They trade places, taking off and coming back. Hummingbirds could be the definition of a feeding frenzy. Maybe it should be called a humming hunger. Whatever it is, they eat fast and require feeder refills often. Andrea had taken the feeders down to refill them. They were washed, and drying, awaiting the sticky sugar concoction that had yet to boil on the stove. We were discussing something or other when I looked out the window, at the pomegranate tree, the same tree the feeders hang from. There, perched on one of the larges trunks, was a hawk. A big red tail with large muscular talons, checking out the scene. My biggest dissapointment at that moment was not having my camera on the counter beside me. I had never been that close to one of those beauties. The intial dissapointment only took a half a second of my time, my mind found itself elsewhere. My mind was in awe of this thing, so stately and noble. It reminded me of some of the most proud horses I have observed. The hawk was reminiscent of images of wolves I have looked at. It was a still (and large) version of the noble hummingbirds that he was looking to snack on. My thoughts went to my Grandpa. A strong man, who’s own character may have been embodied in that hawk. I thought about the summers that had passed, looking out his windows as he pointed at the family of hawks living in the trees behind his house. That was the closest I had been to a hawk til yesterday.
I did not get a picture of it.
And he did not get a hummingbird. He chose the wrong time to land on the tree. Without their feeders hanging thre wer no hummingbirds to be found. Vanished, vamoose, something the hawk probablt had a hand in doing. Fast, fleeting humming birds don’t want to be a cookie for a predator anymore than anyone else. Maybe, though, it wasn’t the wrong time. Maybe he was just posing. A spirit animal of some sort or the other. A bird that stopped by to say howdy and not actually to munch on birds.
Yesterday was host to a birdcount, and Andrea, as an avid birdwatcher, took part. The hawk was added to her list.
I haven’t much to say today. I felt the need to write down some of my memories, the ones that put a smile on my face. Put those thoughts into words, and share the little cookies in my life that top off the good meal. Bon appétit.