Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tent Cities

Living homeless in a tent last year, I learned up close and personal that I was more fortunate than many. Am not as sanguine as I might have been a couple years ago about things being basically jolly-fine. 

Tent cities cum shanty towns are proliferating; people are "living" in trucks on country lanes or under Wal Mart parking lot lights, or in packing crates under freeway overpasses. Passed over by the roar of commuter traffic.

In this mountain town, the community supports homeless shelters and Food Pantry, but many folks feel so shattered by their situations that they occupy twilight outskirts of society.

It will soon be Northern Hemisphere autumn/winter. Days are growing shorter, nights cooler, in the mountains at least.

I tented in snow and sleet. The tent leaked in driving rain. All "normal" functions are then conducted in whatever outdoor weather. It is difficult to eat well cooking on a camp stove or camp fire, without refrigeration. I was lithe and did not need to lose weight; I lost plenty. 

But I did have something to eat every day. Many folks in America, land of obesity, cannot count on that. Homeless families are scavenging in dumpsters behind grocery stores and restaurants for food.

This morning, mercifully comfy and under roof, I did laundry in the little hand-crank washer, dried it in the two-minute spin dryer, and hung clean sweet-smelling clothes on the line by starlight. 

And felt blessed. An elegant solution, low-tech, and I'm no longer washing clothes, dishes, or me out of a bucket. Thanks be to God. Is it easy to be homeless and keep clean? No, not at all. Yet we feel contempt for the unkempt.

A neighbor of mine is on disability, a government program. The government is bankrupt and lashing about in a draconian manner, social programs facing the axe. Though bailouts and bombers hulk sacrosanct, seemingly

My neighbor cannot afford vehicle or phone. Nor, I've just learned, adequate food--I had invited her to accompany me to a free concert end of last month. She didn't show.

I ran into her yesterday out walking her gentle one blue-eye, one brown-eyed dog. (There's a Pet Pantry for low income folks here, to be able to feed and keep their companions.) 

She apologized profusely for not coming to the concert---It was end of the month, and she hadn't eaten for a couple days, and felt too weak to venture out.

Now, I can and will do something about that, but it's grimmer out there--in foreclosure and unemployment land--than we yet acknowledge as a people.


At August 11, 2011 at 4:04 PM , Blogger Mmamallama said...

Reminds me of the woman I met in Haiti who looked at me incredulously and asked through a translator, "You mean--you eat EVERY day??"

At August 11, 2011 at 5:57 PM , Blogger apeman2502 said...

Poverty sucks.

At August 11, 2011 at 7:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

shame on our government for choosing the dollar over the people...

At August 11, 2011 at 7:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you

At August 11, 2011 at 8:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

cool that you are trying to do something at least and cool that you are thankful

At August 11, 2011 at 9:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There but for the grace of God go I.

At August 11, 2011 at 9:53 PM , Anonymous Magannahan Skyjellyfetti said...

Removal of the U.S. taxpayers ten million dollars gifted each and every day by the United States government to apartheid Israel is off the table. Politicians don't care if Americans live in cars and under crumbling bridges. Israel contributes heavily in re-election campaigns. We the people have lost our republic.

At August 12, 2011 at 6:15 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee I thought I was tough, we lived in a plywood shack last winter waiting for the weather to warm up. Some mornings it was 20 degrees in the house with the fire out.

I can relate though, I too feel very lucky to be here;

At August 12, 2011 at 8:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

homeless people need places to squat. People will have to fill that need. zoning ordinances and codes MUST change to fill the needs of our dim future. private individuals could help if they want to by doing what is right. Small and Tiny homes built to survive should be encouraged by affording spaces to park or squat. There is a lot of unused and abandoned spaces that could help humanity. Open your hearts.

At August 13, 2011 at 10:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

the same conditions over here wayfarer,the homeless are treated worthlessly by a lot of society,when I was young I remember someone saying to me that homeless people deserve to be homeless,,this shocked me greatly,from then I always tried to give homeless people something even if it was just a smile,just to show some respect more than anything ,,my son has carried on with that tradition aswell..

wayfarer you are a true adventurer,,,honor and respects go to you ...neil

At August 13, 2011 at 2:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

swirling river
mountain fire
ancient streams
tension higher
beautys wander
sunshines grip
smiling summer
oceans drift
meadow sweeps
starry skys
spere of union
dynamic light


anyway wayfarer have a poem and have some love too...neil


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