Saturday we passed by a fleeting scene which immediately struck me as deeply tragic. There was a lone gentleman on the side of the highway, pushing some kind of cart with a homemade sign written in permanent marker: "Disabled Veterans of Foreign Wars." On his face was an expression of sadness and bewilderment, as if he desperately desired to ask someone why the world was so full of pride and pain but was lacking the energy to formulate the question, especially in the face of the cars whizzing by at 60 miles an hour.
Perhaps he makes this walk regularly, with his cart, to some VFW function or meeting, where similarly scarred and disoriented men meet to try to find some meaning, some understanding, some encouragement. There are plenty of economic privileges granted to veterans, but they do precious little against repairing the real damage, and for all practical purposes these people are tossed aside like so much rusted machinery. Those who preach war must answer to people like this.
It is always interesting to revisit a portion of your life and remember the old places and feelings. For me, it is this land of strawberries, seagulls, and "Mystery Spot" bumper stickers, where we lived for 3-1/2 years. It is a peculiar feeling indeed to be driving along some road and suddenly have a flashback to when instead of sitting in the now-familiar driver's seat you were a kid with a stomach ache peering out the back window. Spooky. This curve in the road, that smell, this dilapidated old building - noticing the things that change and the things that stay the same.
One thing I noticed this time which seems to have changed is the quality of the farm worker's vehicles. Granted, there are still the sedans sans hubcaps and the ever-present Astro - the classic farm-worker shuttle - but it seems that strawberry picking can now help you hit the big time. It's not a bad existence, all things considered. Working with soil and nature, handling delicious fruit, enjoying the temperate ocean climate, and driving home in your shined up pre-owned SUV that you're just barely making the payments on. That's living.
Before going to Mt. Hermon to hear Buddy Greene last night - which in itself is like going back in time - we were able to swing by our old house, which is now vacant, and also drive through the town, which despite some petty changes is still the same Felton. Today we had dinner at the little Taqueria-that-used-to-be-a-burger-joint. It was a good weekend.
Images courtesy of vfwpost9876.org and kreidersmarket.com