Friday night, Garth and I returned home from dinner to find a man in front of the Free Bench, sorting. He had the kind of white hair that is often compared to milkweed, delicate and soft-looking. It hung to his shoulders and his beard was white, too. He stood near his bike and wore a brocade shirt that would not have been out of place at a Renaissance fair, knickers, and silvery flip-flops.
He asked if the Bench was ours, we explained it was but that the stuff on it at the moment was not. We said we hoped he was finding some good stuff and he lifted a foot. “I have already. I got these here yesterday. Say, I was just down at the park for the Food Not Lawns potluck. Do you know about that? Do you have a garden?’ Garth said we did have a garden but didn’t know about the potlucks. “It was a lot of fun. I just now left but they were doing mirror yoga for awhile. Do you know about that?” He put his hands in front of himself and indicated that Garth should put his own hands out. They grasped hands and then moved in a way that reminded me more of Indian wrestling [sic] than yoga.
“Lemme see, I’ve got something for you here.” He patted his pockets like Columbo and came up empty. “Oh, well, do you like seaweed? I have some nori. Would you like a sheet of nori?” We tore off pieces of nori while he returned to the garden question. “What have you planted?” Garth said potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. “Those are all nightshades, aren’t they? What makes them nightshades?” We said we didn’t know. “Well, then, there’s my next project: find out what makes a nightshade a nightshade.” He pushed off on his bike, gave a wave and pedaled down the street.
I can make nothing Meaningful or Mystical out of this encounter, except to suggest that there is something meaningful about any human encounter where there is an exchange of good will.