Pink Cloud and the Man Who Lives in the Woods

20180209_182854630926522.jpgFrom where did this one pink cloud come? So singular and alone it was floating in the path of light coming sideways in the evening.  Is it the evening because it divides the night from the day evenly? That’s what I was thinking about. I had to stop and take a picture of the cloud.

Darkness was approaching, and so was a man on a bicycle. He was a friendly man and called out to me, also on a bicycle, and to the husband who was walking. He asked about the electric bike I was on and came over to show us a picture on his cellphone of another electric bike he had just been looking at. He talked fast and easily about bikes, having put about $4000 into his ride, with special rims on the wheels and a rear approach sensor. He was a serious rider. In fact, he only rode bikes, because he had lost his license a while back.

He was riding home, well not exactly home. He was riding to his tent in the woods. Yes, homeless for the time being but making the best of it. Clean (had just showered at a shelter today), well groomed and nourished, and looking more like a yuppie fitness freak than a vagrant, he gave us several stories of life in the woods. He was a loner by choice and kept his camp clean and decked out – 2 tents, because he had lots of stuff. Oh, and he was a veteran of the Gulf War.

He was employed at Goodwill Corporate for three years now. He had another valuable bike which he kept locked up at work. It had always been a problem to keep it safe while he was away from camp. What was he to do, chain it to a tree?

He wanted to get housing but he just didn’t make enough where he was, and there weren’t any better jobs that he knew of.  He told us where his last three camps had been, and I knew every one of them, had driven/walked by and thought “now if I were homeless I might try to hide in there”.  The place he had been just before Hurrican Irma had been by a creek. That night he came home from work and everything he owned had floated off in the flooded field. He said it was a real pain every time he was made to move. When you have a big camp, it takes quite a few trips to relocate it all. Sometimes they don’t give him much time to do it. He has to leave stuff behind.

The husband was getting antsy, tired of standing and listening and it must have been obvious. The man’s  name was Jody. He apologized for talking so much. It was just that he didn’t get to talk very often, especially to strangers who didn’t know anything about him and asked questions that didn’t sound threatening. He rode off on his really cool bike. I’m not going to say that I didn’t think about offering him a meal next time he rode by, or a shower, or maybe a yard to camp in next time he got chased out. I did think of those things, but he sounded like he was handling life pretty well so I said nothing.

4 thoughts on “Pink Cloud and the Man Who Lives in the Woods

  1. My reasons for not saying anything would have been an over-abundance of caution and skepticism. It would have taken an act of extreme bravery for me to extend any sort of an invitation.

    But on its face, it’s impossible to see the justice of an employed veteran being homeless.

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