Saturday, May 16, 2009

benchless - the site cleaner

i have purchased four watering cans, so far, for 12x12. four watering cans, two solar powered lights, two 15-piece packages of sidewalk chalk, one set of gardening tools, one marigold plant, two strawberry plants, two white snap dragon plants, one "sweet 100" cherry tomato plant, one "habanero red" hot pepper plant and one "hot portugal" pepper plant. i have also rescued one redbox, covered in images of soft porn, one mystery hanging plant and three african violets from various piles of garbage. every couple of days, my "offerings" to benchless are gone. the red box is still sitting behind the garbage bin next to the parkette and the marigolds and strawberries are happily growing in the water fountain, but most of the rest has disappeared into the ether. where have they gone? last week, i discovered a clue: on the way home from a walk with pogo, i noticed a man walking down ainslie street towards me. he was dressed inconspicuously - a blue jacket, dark pants, a baseball cap - and he carried a broom and litterbag/dustpan which he used to sweep up a disintegrating piece of cardboard from an abandoned doorway. he was headed towards my site... i looked at him closely, but not noticeably (i hope), as we passed one another, and determined to hustle back and check benchless as soon as i had dropped pogo off at home. it was a quarter to eight - too early to catch him on tape, unless he lingered at benchless. i hurried a bewildered pogo home and turned back towards benchless. by the time i returned, the mystery man was gone, my chalk was gone, and the redbox was once again behind the garbage bin. it must have been him! the cleaner, as i now call him, didn't appear to work for the city, nor did he appear to be a resident or business owner from the granite block. my two initial theories were scuttled - who is this man who tends to benchless? could he be a local retiree, picking up litter to fill his time? a member of the legion, lions club, or kinsmen? a man serving community-service for some minor crime? perhaps he is unemployed, or under-employed, and one of the local aid agencies sends him out to tidy our streets in exchanged for groceries or a bit of cash. i need to find out! he feels some sort of ownership over benchless...he tends to it...edits it...who is he? a minor flu has tempered my enthusiasm for 12x12 this week. i mean to go out and wait for the cleaner at benchless every morning, but haven't quite had the strength or the spirit, so far. luckily, i have an eye watching the site even when my energy for observation wanes. yesterday, while trolling through my recordings for the past week i found him! while watching the night recording for may 8, i noticed the redbox had moved again. someone pulled it out from behind the bin and left it next to the parkinglot entrance. my interest piqued, i looked a little more closely at the recordings before and after that night recording, trying to catch the person moving it. while i had no luck finding the mystery box mover, on may 10, 2009, at 8:00 am i had recorded someone moving it back behind the garbage bin. there was the cleaner, with a friend, making their way across the site, tidying as they went. perhaps next week i will meet him in person, now that i know a little more about his schedule, and ask him about himself - and, of course, how he feels about benchless.

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