Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Thanksgiving Feast

It was a cold rain, one that warns of winter's arrival. In the mountains, not too far from downtown Denver, there was a forecast of up to 2 feet of snow that would serve as catalyst for skiers' fantasies. It was early Sunday morning, a time when most would be staying in bed under warm blankets, girding themselves against the inclemency.

I shivered slightly on the walk with my wife. My hood was not quite tight enough and kept falling off my head in the breeze. We were on our way to the Denver Art Museum, hoping to see the Van Gogh exhibit. Later that day, weather permitting, we were on a flight back to New York. My most pressing concerns were the chill in the air and the scarcity of tickets to view the master.

As we turned a corner towards the museum only a few hundred yards away, there, stretching almost the entire length of the block, was one continuous table, set in festive colors. It had the look of  Thanksgiving  with an orange and brown paper table cloth serving as protective cover. It was actually many identical folding tables, lined up all astride one other, all connected by the massive orange and brown.

In the center of the street, situated so that those on both ends of the table would have equal access to sight and sound, was a small band shell. Several musicians had gathered. In the middle was a young girl, whom I imagined as the lead singer. The  performers and the equipment, while under a canopy, were still subjected to much of the harshness of the day.

Next to this site, the food was being readied. Hundreds of bottles of soda were packed tightly together. A group was working, pulling apart the meat on the turkey into individual portions. Nearby, the bread was stacked high.

A makeshift hair salon found a home on the grass. There, a lone hair cutter was busy at work, putting the finishing touches on an apparent makeover.

At the far end of the block, the crowd was gathering in a line, two or three across and many rows deep, waiting for their chance to partake in the offerings. It was only mid-morning, and all was not nearly ready. The rain continued to fall intermittently, stopping for a moment but then increasing in intensity.

Most in the group were silent. One was not, screaming loudly while those around tried to ignore him.

During our three days in the city,  the landscape in the business district where we were staying was dotted with clusters of people whom it appeared life was treating with no kindness. Our hotel looked down upon a pedestrian mall, made Disney like clean. A free bus ran its length, inviting those with the resources to take in its restaurants and shops. In the midst were those for whom this street provided only the promise of a bench.

My wife and I reached the end of the block. We walked past those waiting for the rain to diminish and their stomachs to be filled. We headed on to the museum.

About 90 minutes later, having taken in the wonders of the art and listening to an audio explanation to enhance our experience, we ventured outside. The weather had turned even a little colder, and the rain followed our every step.

By the entrance of a nearby building, sheltered under an overhang, were three or four men. Plates in hand, they were partaking of their meal. People were similarly huddled together in various other places, all strategically located for protection from the elements. On the stage, the young girl singer, slightly off key and a bit too loud, was serenading to the few who sat at the brown and orange covered table. One person stood nearby, gesticulating wildly to the music.

It began to hail. I worried whether our son, returning from a visit with friends, was dressed warmly enough. Soon we were back in the hotel. I pressed up against the fireplace. Although it did not generate as much warmth as I hoped, within a few minutes the chill exited my bones.

Later, as the hail turned to snow, the weather at the airport became a problem. We waited for our plane to be de-iced, but even as the snow intensified and conditions deteriorated, we were able to manage our escape and head into the dark night sky.

On the street near the museum, I was certain that the stage had been taken down and the block long table removed.  The brown and orange tablecloth was now but a memory, torn and discarded.

1 comment:

Harryette said...

but the hunger and homelessness remains