I often walk in the park. No, that is not true, I walk to the park and I sit down on a bench and I think and observe and occasionally if I remember, I might feed the birds with a crust. When I am breaking it up and throwing it to the urban bird life that really have no right to be there getting free pickings, I often think that the crusts would do me more good than the spongy moist bread that is in the slices that I do eat.
Today as on most days I see the usual park dwellers like me; the walkers and the joggers; the skateboarders and mothers with babies or toddlers. I don’t wave or say hello to them or they to me they are but the natural makeup of the park, just like the seats and the kiddies’ corner and the fountain and the gardens and the grass and the trees. That is all except Maisie. I am sure that is not her name, it is just the name I have given her. She dresses down for the park. She looks permanently cross and she holds an unbent wire coat hanger in one hand and drags a large trolley with the other. The trolley is filled with reusable bags half filled with an assortment of bottles and cans and plastic containers all of which can be redeemed for 10c a piece at the recycling depot. We have little such debris littering our street and parks and waterways, it is just too valuable. Even if you don’t want the 10c Maisie does and hundreds like her. There is an army of scavenger ants in Adelaide clearing the city and suburbs of this waste.
As I sit there unnoticed Maisie will approach the waste bin near me and using her improvised tool will fossick for treasures in the garbage. I however notice her. She has dressed especially for this task. She has dressed down. I don’t think her best friends would recognise her, if she had any friends. She wears a hat that shields her face and protects her from the sun and it is held on by a chiffon scarf of doubtful cleanliness tied with knot under her chin. Her clothes are ones Opportunity shops would throw out. They are foul and her shoes are of course sneakers of a size that would probably fit me!
At first I would ignore her and she me. One day something allowed me to study her more closely. Hiding behind her façade was a very sweet face that appeared when her grimace was relaxed. In that fleeting second I saw a different Maisie, I saw a young girl thrilled at receiving her first kiss, I saw a blushing bride proudly gazing into a young man’s eyes, and I saw her with tears in her eyes as she cradled her baby. It was at that moment I looked at Maisie in a different light. In doing so I got up off the park bench and stopped feeling sorry for myself and took a walk in the park.