He never starts at other noises, like the whirr of weedwackers or power saws. Perhaps for him, that smaller clatter is containable, more accessible, easier to avoid. He ignores the high -pitched whine of the crew wielding weedwackers, cleaning the jungle from the yard of the empty house across the street, but that it is the noise that interests me. Earnest may think the train may leave the tracks, descend suddenly on the street, but to me it is just background noise, dull and utterly predictable. The whirr of weedwackers slicing through months of overgrown grass is edgy, something new, unexpected, almost hopeful. I hear it and wonder if the house, so long ignored, is again sold or will soon be inhabited again.
Certainly, this is no time for houses to stay empty. Folks need places to live.
Too many are moving onto the street. Sleeping bags are stashed under bushes in the park. Backpacks lean against park benches. Shopping carts appear daily on street corners.
I am mystified as to how this Trader Joe's shopping cart, hastily packed with bare necessities, made it out of the parking lot. Every time, I push one of these carts near the edge of the sidewalk ringing the parking lot, the wheels lock, but here it is -- stacked and parked. No one near to claim it or guard it, but no matter. Its contents, knotted plastic bags, are ironically safer than had they been stacked on the backseat of a locked car. No one will touch the bags stacked in a shopping cart left on a sidewalk, but leave those same plump bags in a parked car and someone might just break the window to get at those bags.
Forty years ago, I wandered about Europe with my first husband. We carried on our backs a tent, mats, sleeping bags, pot and pans, a tiny Primus stove, several changes of clothes, drawing paper and several books. I don't remember what I read -- it was long ago -- but I remember reading as the light grew dim. Whenever we set up our camp -- usually in the middle of cities -- we zipped up the tent flap and went on our way, exploring the city, visiting museums and galleries, cathedrals and pubs. We camped at Crystal Palace in London, zipped the tent in the morning, took the tube to the Tate, came back late in the afternoon and cooked dinner before the sun set. We pitched our tent in Firenze, toured the Duomo, wandered the city. No one ever bothered our camp.
Then, I thought such freedoms were the code of the road, the unwritten rules of the life of the wanderer, but now I wander if it might be simpler than that. No place to plug in under a tree. No flat-screen TVs, no computers, no stereos stashed in those piled plastic bags.