I’m sitting warm ‘n’ cosy in my rented condo this morning. The sky is a splash of brilliant color. The puddle on the roof of the carport shimmers with a thin layer of ice.
Yesterday I made a couple dozen egg salad sandwiches with gluten-free sourdough bread and left-over hard boiled eggs from Sunday’s Food Not Bombs serving to the unhoused in Beacon Hill Park.
The egg salad recipe:
- 18 hard boiled eggs, shelled and mashed
- About ⅓ cup real mayonnaise
- A scant ¼ cup finely diced onion (from an onion donated by the FGCA food rescue)
- About ⅓ cup diced homemade pickled beets (donated by Jaci White)
- Becel Margarine (donated to Food Not Bombs by who?)
- 3 loaves of gluten-free sourdough bread (donated to Food Not Bombs by the Art of Slow Food)
- Salt n pepper to taste
I sliced the bread and lightly toasted it. Someone in the unhoused community told me one day they had been craving toast.
“I miss toast,” they said.
Each sandwich had a generous filling of egg salad. As I assembled each one, I cut it in two with a sharp serrated knife, and the egg salad oozed out between the slices of bread. So I wrapped each sandwich in parchment paper, held that together with an elastic band, and packed them into a carry container; then went for a walk into the park across the street from the condo building where I rent my home. Beacon Hill Park.
Before before distributing the sandwiches, I visited a friend from Mechosin who had come into town to pick up a gift for his wife, for their 20-year wedding anniversary. We sat and chatted on a park bench, not a tent in sight! His two dogs ran around, and one took off exploring. Friend went off looking for his dog. All I heard was him calling. There was no shouting from an unhoused person. There were no needles. It was a typical Beacon Hill Park visit.
After my buddy left, I went to distribute the sandwiches to some of my new neighbors living in tents. En route, met a Dene man who identified himself as a healing Angel. He asked if he could walk with me while taking the sandwiches round. So we did that together.
People were happy to get the sandwiches. Dene man and I got acquainted.
The flooding wasn’t as bad as Central Park, that’s for sure!
But oh my! The couple who had just moved into Beacon Hill Park three days ago, said they’d been in a puddle the night before. They’d both left their housed treatment programmes so they could “…be together…”.
Leaves one wondering why we as a society are unable to provide couples with housing AND treatment. Why do we have to split them up?
My new Dene healing Angel friend and I made our way round the tents. We arrived at John and Shelly’s place. S was thrilled to receive the sandwich.
“Look at how this is wrapped J! Oh my this is so good!” She said as she licked the egg salad creeping out the sides, and bit into the sandwich. I watched her eat it. She hardly stopped talking the whole time, while J unwrapped his sandwich and looked at it, kind of baffled about how to eat it. He watched S and pretty soon had it figured out. This was real toasted bread. A real homemade sandwich.
S talked about being on the BC Housing list. Wanting housing in Nanaimo where her kids are. But not seeking housing with J. Here in the park “J takes care of me.” She’s lucky to have him. Methinks a woman sleeping in a tent in a park needs a man to look after her. …and I’m a feminist who has lived alone most of my adult life, by choice…
S was wearing a cool, almost trendy vintage printed, short-sleeved cotton-rayon dress, with bare legs. Socks pulled up to her knees. The hole in the heel turned to reveal her ankle.
“Would you like some socks?” I asked.
“Oh yes, socks are good.”
“Are you warm enough?”
L“I’m always cold.” She replied.
“Is your bedding dry?”
“It’s hanging there to dry out.” She pointed to the duvet and such, draped over the nearby benches.
“What do you need?”
“We need two wool blankets.” Said J. The first he had spoken.
“I have a wool blanket and some socks in the car. I’ll bring them later.”
“Where’s your car? I’ll walk with you now.” Says J. “I’ll get my bike.” I sensed his urgency. His fear that they were empty words. That there would be no socks and no blanket if he didn’t come right away. Most of all, I sensed his incredible desire to be there for S and do something for her right now to take the chill off. So I said: “Sure, let’s do that right now.”
The three of us: my new healing Angel friend, my unhoused neighbor J who takes care of S, and myself – walk up Heywood Ave to my car. I give J the blanket, two pairs of heavy socks, and four pairs of lighter black socks. All collected in the Food Not Bombs sock drive, and left over from Sunday’s serving.
Later on, I’m texting with someone else I know who spends a lot of time helping Victoria’s unhoused.
Me: “I saw S and J today. She’s really suffering with the cold. I gave them a wool blanket and several pairs of socks.”
They: “She is tough, though benefits from support.”
Me: “She is also very fragile and vulnerable.”
They: “She has been on the streets or 10 years.”
Me: “She has touched me more deeply than many others.”
They: “She is sweet.”
Me: “Yes, very sweet and very pretty, in a delicate way.”
Me: “She breaks my heart.”
And this? This disgusts me. https://www.change.org/p/lisa-helps-save-beacon-hill-park
Hi Alison, Thanks for the post and for sharing the sunrise and a little of your goings on. It’s comforting to know there are people willing to care for others in this city. Best regards, Rachel