Kitchen Exhibitionist
The Culinary Quests of a Food Enthusiast Stuck in the Sticks
Cityscape Snippet – On the streets where they live

A few weeks ago I saw something that I can’t seem to get out of my head. It has nothing to do with food or cooking, so this blog is not really the appropriate venue for it. But I cannot stop thinking about it.

I was driving in nearby Lancaster city through a rundown section of town when I noticed a homeless man strolling down the street. That isn’t what surprised me because every city, large or small, has its share of displaced denizens. Typical of many well-off people, I’m sorry to say I’ve become almost blind to their presence. But there was something quite unusual and special about this man that drew my attention and has kept him in my mind ever since.

Like most homeless people, he wore many layers of ragged clothing and had an unkempt appearance. And like many of his street brothers and sisters, he pushed a rickety grocery cart containing all his material belongings, along with some recyclable items he had scrounged from the trash to exchange for a few cents.

But this man had something else I didn’t know a homeless person could have. Trotting happily beside him on a leash was a scruffy-looking dog.

The dog, tail wagging, tongue lolling, almost grinning, looked up at the man with the unconditional affection that only those of the canine persuasion can bestow. I was struck by how the dog didn’t judge the homeless man at all but accepted him wholeheartedly. The man was his master and it didn’t matter to the dog that his master had no money, no home, or wore rags. The dog clearly adored him. It brought a lump to my throat.

We could all learn a lesson from this straggly little dog, I thought to myself. I promptly vowed to be more like the dog, to accept people without judgment and not quickly dismiss them based on their appearance or their situation.

At the same time I was quite moved that this homeless man, who had nothing, was willing to care for a stray animal. I watched as he stopped to adjust the leash where it was twisted and then patted and scratched the dog’s head. They continued their congenial ramble, completely oblivious to how improbable a picture they made.

We could all learn a lesson from this homeless man as well, I realized. Most of us have so much that we take it for granted. I suddenly felt ashamed of myself. If this man, with so little, was willing to share what he had with another creature, I could do no less. I immediately pledged to share my plenty with those less fortunate.

The traffic light turned green and I drove on. I watched them grow smaller in my rear view mirror as they grew larger in my thoughts, and felt surprised that these important life lessons were unwittingly taught to me by a homeless man and a stray dog on the streets where they live.

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