Thanksgiving's traditional morning run yesterday was on the chilly side, but bright and sunny. Typically, I've been counting homeless folk on this day as a very informal measure of how we are doing on the home front in comparison to all the other social endeavors such as the multi-billion a day habits we have in Iraq and Afghanistan. This year the count promised to be rather different, but in the end, finished off with a modest number of homeless folk counted.
On the panhandle, I spotted my first two folk, one cozied up next to his shopping cart, reclining on a mess of cushions basking in the sun near the DMV. The other was underneath the DMV building overhang. And, those of you familiar with our park, know that I wasn't even in the park technically at that time. On normal, non-holiday weekends, you can see anywhere from 3 to about a dozen homeless encamped in various locations on the panhandle. Thanksgiving morning I couldn't find any. I thought, perhaps, this year would be the year where there was a noticeable drop in homeless folk out and about.
I got well past the panhandle, following my traditional Thanksgiving set of trails in the customary counter clockwise direction. No homeless folks on the usual benches or under their typical trees, sleeping. The first sign of real life in the park was about a half to full dozen Chinese badminton players hitting birdies about, getting exercise near the chess playing area. Unusual, I thought to my self, but not unheard of. I've seen a similar group in a similar location at a similar time in other parts of the year. Could be a club or bunch of neighbors gathered for the usual morning repast of badminton exercise. Looked like fun.
The next signs of life I saw in the park were about dozen or two of Chinese line dancers in formation across the street from the rhododendron grove. They seemed to be enjoying themselves being led by an older gentleman booming 1980s synth-pop tunes and doing some kind of hustle, but with nary a smile among them. Perhaps that comes with dancing for exercise versus the plastic nature of competitions like Dancing with the Starts.
Looping back toward the Academy of Science, of all things, I noticed a new paddock on the North side of the building. Inside the paddock were harnessed up reindeer - two. Good looking animals, seemingly well cared for. They looked like the same ones they usually have out at the zoo this time of year. No doubt, here for the season or children to get educated about what real reindeer are all about.
Even so, no homelessness baring my first two sighted well before the actual park. As I looped around I made it to the meadow near the Sharon Building just past the tennis courts with two sets of doubles drama unfolding, and there, low and behold, were five homeless folks, and what looked like a flock of aging yuppies (blue jeens and sweatshirts on almost all of them) looking like they were up to the good work of helping the nearly non-existent homeless. I kept running. In years past, I've seen about two dozen homeless in this same location.
As I exited the park, I saw the usual pack of about 5 homeless on the steps to the McDonald's sipping on cheep coffee, munching on various sausage muffins. As I ran down Haight Street, I counted a handful more homeless, meandering about with shopping carts or backpacks, looking disheveled and unshaven. Not a lot of women, in the bunch, mind you.
As I continued to the mid-Height area, I caught my first glimpse of the usual set of Hell's Angles milling about in front of the usual cafe sipping lattes and generally seeming like in a good mood. I counted well past 24 Harley-Davidsons parked wheel to wheel. So, I'm guessing there was something like 30 or so folks with more incoming as you could hear the thunder rolling up Haight once I got past the flock of Angels.
Surprisingly, there were zero homeless to report in the Buena Vista park, although I could see what looked like a tent from the trail I was on. No verifiable persons inside as I usually just go for the obvious. In all, counted 1.5 doz homeless. Down from years past, and substantially less than big burly men driving very expensive motorcycles all with Hell's Angels emblazoned on their backs.
Have a great remainder to your Holiday folks.
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