A Lifetime of Kindness
He sets up a camp on the lawn with many of the comforts of home, within inches of the drum circle. Early in the day he spreads out blankets on which he arranges an array of musical instruments like shakers and drumsticks and cowbells. He brings out bags of free pastries and bread from the food pantry that he’s brought for the drummers. He prepares generous bundles of sweet incense and he sticks them in the ground right where the grass meets the pavement, where later they will perfume the drum circle and make the place smell like a church.
He has a little gold-colored dog that he treats like a person. Someone listening to him who didn’t know better might think he was talking to a spouse or a roommate. The dog rides in an elaborate stroller arrangement with decorations and a shady awning and a small official-looking California license plate with the dog’s name on it, “Sam.” Also on display is a big color picture of the little dog mounted on cardboard, and a hand-lettered sign that says, “Little D and Sam Dog, 25 Years at Drum Circle”
“Little D” is short for David. He probably got the nick name so people could tell him apart from some other David at the drum circle at that time. At first I thought he was homeless because of the packed stroller, but he recently got a state-subsidized room, after living outside for years. He almost moved out because he thought the noise in the crowded building scared the little dog.
He’s not young and not very tall, but his enraptured dancing adds so much to the drums. Like a man half his age he moves and leaps with awesome strength. At first I thought he looked a little wild, sort of like King David dancing uninhibited around the Ark of the Covenant. But when he made ecstatic prayers out loud right in the drum circle, bringing the drums to a new level, he won me over.
His weather-worn face seems to be always smiling, showing the marks of a lifetime of kindness. As we sit on his blanket he offers me a swig from his bottle of pop and a food pantry cupcake. He tells me how he and his friends rescued almost two hundred dogs from a container in China, bound for the meat market, and found homes for them. He puts on sunglasses and teases he has to wear them to keep away all the girls who want him because of his baby blue eyes.
Little Sam Dog gets out of the stroller wearing his official-looking dog coat that says “SECURITY.” He greets the drummers like a master of ceremonies as they arrive, his plump little body waddling from one to the other around the circle. Then as the drums start he lies down and makes himself comfortable on the pavement right inside the drum circle. He seems to enjoy the music. Its loud sounds don’t seem to bother him as people dance around him as if acknowledging the life force in him.