Sunday, January 21, 2007

Planter of Many Functions

It’s early Sunday morning and, in an otherwise deserted city, a surprisingly large group of people has amassed around the planter beds running along the side of the Austin Public Library. At first perusal, the group comes off as a shabby looking bunch, perhaps bums who have carved out a home for themselves amid this inviting haven, but maybe it’s nothing more than the scene of their socializing before they continue onwards to their individual abodes. Either way, it is apparent that a microcosm has arisen amid this environment, and in this microcosm, it is the individuals that are of interest.
The first ‘actor’ I encounter is a sleeping man tucked into a fold of the planter. His curled up form leans against the sturdy form of the wall snoozing on in gentle repose, letting the day pass him by, waiting for the warming sun to reach back and gently waken him. His story remains much the same for the duration of my investigation so I move along.
The next actor that I come across is another man who is lightly sitting on the wall in silence, meticulously minding his own business. Keeping his eyes downcast, he fidgets with an aluminum wrapped object, using the top of the wall as an impromptu table upon which he squares up the aluminum packaging. He remains silently pensive, so, once again, I move along.
The next actor is actually a pair of actors. Two men sit comfortably upon the planter wall, letting the sun warm their bones and take away the chill from the night before. Sometimes they are companionably silent and other times they engage in a sporadic friendly conversation, which wanders much as the day is. I leave them to their conversation and take off to pursue personal errands, planning to return later in the day.
Later in the after noon, I returned to see how the idyllic happenings of the morning had progressed now that the city had awakened and the library had opened. I was greeted by a much livelier scene, as the sun was now beaming down all along the planter, granting no reprieves to late sleepers. I found that all the previous actors had dispersed save for the two men who were still casually conversing with each other as well as with the now passing traffic. Some new actors had arrived on the scene.
One such actor was a young woman who sat on the planter, reading a newly acquired library book, while she waited for her ride to come and take her onwards with her life. Another man stood slightly further back, using the planter edge as a resting place for his backpack as he paced around the perimeter of the planter during a short cigarette break. Still, other extras on the scene never physically came into contact with the wall but felt its presence as they walked by, letting it direct their movements around the building.

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