What We Do In Our Backyard

I see the man jogging down the path carrying a plastic plant holder. He jogs to the side, leans over the railing, picks up a piece of trash, stuffs it into the plant holder.

Every time I see him, he is doing this. Jogging, grabbing rubbish, carrying it to the closest trash bin.

Today, I decide to call out to him: I think it's wonderful that you do that.

He turns to me. He is tall, fit, has a white mustache. His eyes are blue as the wide open sky.

Oh, he smiles. He has a sweet smile. This path is a privilege, he says. And I wonder if he used to jog on a tiny roadside shoulder.

This - he gestures at the junky pile in the plant holder - pains me. I feel like this place is my backyard.

And it strikes me that each morning on his jog, he takes this little ribbon of earth up in his hands, dusts it off, and holds it close to his heart.

Well, thank you, I say to him.

And he returns to cleaning up his backyard.

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