Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pocket Change

Well, it's the end of another summer and the days are definitely getting considerably shorter, not to mention cooler. And although we are heading into my favourite season, “Sweater Weather”, I will miss the long, drawn out, sunny summer days. The trees are slowly shutting down, turning the bright greens of their leaves into the brilliant, vibrant hues of autumn. Mother Nature has cleansed her palette and has begun repainting anew the landscape - blessing us with a canvas of untold beauty. And, life as we know it, moves on. As the cooler weather begins to encroach upon us, instinct, it appears, wants us to move indoors. However, I am not quite ready for that just yet. Mind you, there are still a number of unfinished chores begging for my attention and reluctantly, I am tending to those as time permits. As for extra curricular activity, my Sunday night hockey group have already taken to the ice. There is just something unnatural walking into an arena carrying hockey gear while wearing shorts. Oh well! C'est la vie!

I know it has been awhile since I have last posted but there are times when personal responsibility's become the order of the day. And believe me, my days are indeed full. It was also quite necessary to enjoy some of the summer days that finally presented themselves to us. We did have quite a fair amount of wet weather this year and so, when the sun shone, I wanted to be under it. To say that I was able to enjoy some new experiences would be an understatement. Pedaling around the nearby countrysides and taking in the rolling landscapes of the many farmers' fields was not only breathtaking but therapeutic as well. It seemed, to me anyways, that when you drive the roads on a regular basis, that each scene blends itself into one and they tend to all look alike. But when you travel at a slower pace your eyes catch things that you would have normally missed.

Like a solitary figure tending to the crops out in the vastness of the green and gold fields while the midday sun beats down on him and his gently rolling tractor. There were many a farmer that put a smile on my face as they gave me a gentle wave while I rolled by. And now, their efforts of toiling under that hot sun have begun to pay off as the crops hit the week end markets. Corn, carrots, potatoes, beets – the shopping list is endless. Fresh, crisp and juicy apples along roadside kiosks not to mention the pies and other fresh baked goods at the numerous vendors. Jars and jars of fresh preserves and varieties of pickles too numerous to name. It's a great time of the year. For obvious reasons, our harvest season begins a lot earlier than those of our neighbours to the south. But I am sure, they too, have begun to enjoy the abundant cornucopia that the farmers sweat equity has produced.

Sadly, this is also the time of year when those less fortunate begin to find it more difficult to fend for themselves, trying desperately to make ends meet. You see them on street corners, parks or outside of grocery stores, begging for a little pocket change. These are not the type of people you would normally see begging for a handout to feed a craving or a fix. But people who are already on limited or fixed income foregoing pride in order to put some food in their stomachs. We are fast approaching the season of Thanksgiving when many of us have so much to be thankful for. Our health, a steady income, our friends and families. Not to mention the frills that go along with that. Sometimes it is to easy to take all that for granted I suppose. In our haste to get on with our days, we scarcely give these people a second glance. Sometimes stopping, most times rushing on to our next destination.

But, every once in awhile, something happens that stops me in my tracks. I was leaving the grocery store the other day when I heard a garbled voice muttering something I couldn't quite understand. When I turned to face the person to ask them to repeat themselves, I had to look down as there, seated in a wheelchair, was the remnants of a man who had seen far better days. His body twisted and crippled and his eyes, dark, sorrowful and desperate. Again, he slowly and quietly asked if I could spare some money so he could buy some food. Of course I obliged without any misgivings. These are the situations that always grab a strangle hold on my heart. I'm not sure what happens to me, shame perhaps. I become uneasy as I fumble through my pockets for my wallet. Digging out some cash to hand over to this man. There are times I wish I could do more. But at the same time, I wonder what has gone so wrong with our system that this particular man is forced to humble himself in order to feed himself. Without even knowing it, this man taught me a little about humility and a persons desire to survive. It's too bad life has to sacrifice some of these forgotten human beings to teach some of us what life is all about.

So, as Thanksgiving approaches for us here in Canada and later in the United States, remember those whose lives have had a little less joy in their hearts. Especially when you exit the store and see one of those lost souls, humbly mustering up the courage to ask for a little pocket change.