Image: © Mara Eastern (Used with permission)
Overnight it had snowed again leaving its blanket of wonder for us to play in.
As we ventured out the old man wandered past. His steps were hesitant as he plodded along leaving his oversized boot prints in his wake.
His head bowed I recognised him as the old man who lived in the park, a cardboard box as his home, his possessions in dirty plastic bags packed into the corners of his current box.
I couldn’t imagine how cold it must be for him on nights where the water in the pipes froze, the snow fell, and the freezing winds blew.
But he survived, and mum had often told me he was a man who had occupied his spot in the park for a lot of years. He lived on handouts, the late night coffee van and the generosity of strangers going by.
He never asked for anything, he was not one to beg but preferred to maintain his own sense of silent dignity.
He was often seen around the town on cold mornings I suspected as movement warmed him and kept him functioning.
There were places he went out of habit, the servo on the highway which allowed him to use their toilets, the café on the main street who gave him a coffee each morning and allowed him to use their bathroom to wash up.
The various charities in the town had tried to provide housing for him, but he was such a creature of habit, the outside and his park home was all he wanted.
To today seeing him huddled inside his old woollen coat, covering the layers beneath, gave me reason to be grateful for the roof over my head.