Plague Diary VI

For the last few weeks there’s been someone living in a tent beneath my window. I am twenty-one floors above and overlook the park where the tent is pitched. I’ve never had a tent-neighbor before and I’m intrigued. I wonder if I should go down and introduce myself, make an offering of cake or homemade chocolate-chip cookies. That’s what good neighbors did when I was a kid.
It’s rained much of the last two weeks and I feel bad for my tent-neighbor as his tent may not be completely waterproof. It was put together with overlapping tarps and cardboard. It sits only partially under a tree that’s lost most of its leaves.
I dare not invite tent-neighbor into my home as we are in the midst of a pandemic and I don’t know if tent-neighbor might be infected or contagious. I could be infected and symptomless, contagious to others.
Yesterday when the rain paused for a while, tent-neighbor covered the ground with something I thought might be Art. When I took out my binoculars, I saw that clothes had been laid out on a tarp (?) to be dried. Had they been washed? Had one of my house-neighbors invited tent-neighbor in for a shower? I was ashamed I hadn’t done it first, but still frightened of infection. Perhaps I should go down and leave coins for the laundromat. But would tent-neighbor spend them on Cleanliness? Or drugs? Alcohol? I don’t want to profile. I don’t want to enable.
A gift of food is a better idea. A sandwich? How would I guess preference? Perhaps I have a meatless tent-neighbor. Soup? If tent-neighbor isn’t hungry right away, is the tent equipped to reheat? And what food allergies might tent-neighbor have?
Back to cake. Or homemade cookies. No nuts. But I don’t…bake. Bread would be good, but I have no yeast, no sourdough starter, no technique. When my kids were young, bread making was one of our favorite winter activities—braided bread babies with an egg for the face. But it’s been years…perhaps a loaf from a bakery, something fresh and crusty. I remember eating Portuguese bread when I worked summers in Provincetown, soft in the middle, crusty outside.
Bread is life, but is it tent life?
There are a lot of squirrels in the park, and rats in the neighborhood, who would love to have bread. And birds…it could end up like a Hitchcock movie—in a tent. For that matter, I’m sure the neighborhood wild life would enjoy unguarded food of any kind. How secure is a tent?
Maybe a blanket.
Perhaps I should send my family and all my friends blankets, to hide under until this pandemic/election/nightmare is over. Friends and family could use a little coziness too. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? Blankets for everyone! Everywhere!
Actually, I think I’m the one that needs a blanket.

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