Finding Kelowna  

Casting coins

It is one of the coldest days of the year. I station my car by Kerry Park, and skirt the lake toward The Sails where I will champion the urban poor. When I arrive at the giant icon four people huddle against a steely wind. Three are leaders while the fourth, come to ask questions, is soon driven away by the freeze. When others do not join us I privately wonder if it is only the cold that keeps the city away.

We dissolve, and my car takes me on a tour of five supermarkets where I solicit flowers for the deprived who will come to a portrait event later in the week. At the entrance of my first attempt, a cluster of people in Santa hats jingles its bells and asks for a donation. I no longer carry cash, but the lady thrusts a brown bag at me with the intent that I fill it. I appreciate their hearts, but I do not like their hats; Santa is the patron saint of consumption, and lives in shopping malls bursting with excess.

I enter the bountiful market and ask for the manager amid the bleeps of registers and the clichéd numb of muzak. My request pinches him and he discourages flowers for the homeless because outside they would freeze quickly. I explain further, and coax a promise of some blossoms for the event. The second manager also stints, with a manner that seems to question the effect of donation on profit. But he too offers some blooms. My success is short-lived by the remaining three who, among the abundant produce of the season, state their conditions for benevolence.

On my way home a bearded man in tattered clothes stands on a median and holds a sign for motorists: TRAVELLING BROKE AND HUNGRY ANYTHING HELPS xxx GOD BLESS AND THANK YOU. He is surrounded by giant shopping malls that encircle him like parentheses enclose a dot. I give him a parking dollar found in a compartment, and when I explain my mission for the poor he generously allows his photo to be taken. While waiting for a green light I find another dollar but traffic pushes, so I cast it hopefully at his knapsack where it bounces and lands amid traffic too hurried to help.

Home enfolds me with the warmth of an orange tabby. My wife is glad to see me, and as we prepare dinner a stereo plays the anthems of the season. I eat two bowls of home-made soup, a plate of broccoli, potatoes and salmon steak; a fresh garden salad and a glass of cabernet. Here, the man on the median has become a being from a far off country. But as I enjoy the flavours of earth and sea, the image of a coin cast on a busy street spreads like ink through my bubble of satisfaction.

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About the Author

Giovanni is a poet, columnist, interviewer and photographer. His passion for literature and the writing arts began at three years of age when his mother read to him the poems of Giovanni Pascoli.

Finding Kelowna, as he explains it in his website of the same name, is a focus on the ordinary events, people and things that often go unnoticed. Its purpose is to reveal the startling brilliance of everyday life which may be beautiful, tragic or bizarre. Giovanni does this in a creative way that spotlights the sudden encounters, poignant moments and unusual circumstances that pepper daily life.

Through chance conversations and unexpected occurrences, the tone and character of Kelowna and its surroundings is explored. In so doing, Giovanni hopes that the reader will catch a glimpse of himself and of humanity in all its glorious imperfection.

To comment on his columns you may write to him at [email protected]. You may read other articles he has written by viewing his website at  You may view his photography blog at, and read his poems, stories and perspectives at

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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