I don’t remember. This day might have been in northern New Jersey, but I’m pretty sure it was eastern Pennsylvania.
I do remember I had 6¢ in my pocket, which had been a carefully considered decision. In those days, to pick up a pay phone and talk with an operator to make a long distance call you had to insert a dime. After you’ve found someone to ask what a “pay phone” or a “long distance call” is, I’ll continue my story —
After buying a much-needed toothbrush and feeding myself for several days, I found myself with a few coins in my pocket. To even buy a can of kidney beans I had to break my last dime. I had the choice between something to eat and a last chance to call home asking for help to get off the road.
I left the little country store with 6¢ and a can of beans.
Those six cents were on my mind that afternoon, as I passed through lush woods and farms, but there was not much time for obsessing. The air was so fresh. The winding country road was so inviting. And the springtime mist was often sprinkled with moments of glorious sunshine. The gray of the sky would part into brilliant blue and billowing white. The wet greens of springtime earth would sing in vibrant, crystalline light.
About two in the afternoon a bit of straight road was wet and sparkling in the sunshine. An old wood fence on my right offered a place to sit and ease the cotton sleeping bag off my shoulder. Across the road another wood fence separated the grass next to the road from the grass in a pasture—all glowing in the light and just hinting of the color of budding flowers. Rolling hills gave a weaving distant edge to the pasture, covered in gray trunks of trees, topped with yellow and ruby red branches just filling with life.
A few seconds? Ten minutes? Thirty?
Even now the sunshine and the air and the color and the being of it breath through me. So beautiful.
And, like now, the time came for a different slant.
I was past hungry, having tried to save the beans for when they were really needed. Leaning against the fence I opened the can and found my spoon and savored nourishment that was as preserved as the air and the light were spontaneous. (Although I didn’t think of that until now. At the time I only thought how luscious those beans were.)
Half way through the beans I decided to save the rest for dinner. There was no putting the lid back on those sticky beans so I stuffed the open can in the top of the roll of my sleeping bag where it would be held upright.
I licked the spoon clean, put it in my pocket, and kissed that lovely moment and that beautiful, sun-lit space, Thanks.