Friday, June 01, 2007

Tableau from my back porch

I was sitting on my back porch on a recent weekend morning, relaxing and looking out over the empty lots under the El tracks behind my building. At the far side of the lot, a large cargo van had been parked and a variety of vegetables had been laid out on the ground in milk crates, along with a food-vending cart with large vessels of juice and horchata and prepared fruits and cucumbers, sliced lengthwise like pickles. Folding chairs and brightly-colored umbrellas dotted the entire scene. Several Hispanic adults tended this stand.

Closer to me, in the shade of the El tracks, the grandfather and a little boy, not yet two years old, practiced pitching pebbles. The grandfather looked like so many Hispanic old men in my neighborhood look: short, paunchy but not fat, wearing brown polyester slacks and a tan button-down shirt, possibly with western styling and mother-of-pearl snaps. He wore a white cowboy hat. He was patiently training the boy to stand with his left side pointed at the target: a vertical I-beam. His joy at the process and the boy’s mixed attentiveness and baby-wandering were beautiful to watch. Also, the boy had already started to master the over-hand throw with his pudgy little arms: leading with the elbow and following through with the wrist and torso.

They were distracted from their slow-paced lesson when an older boy dropped his T-shirt off the El platform and problem-solving ensued to get it back to him. I went into the house then.

A neat little urban vignette.

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