are 530 American Indian tribes in the 48 contiguous states. Tribes
control about 20% of the land mass in reservations. Most of the western
reservations are overflowing with abandoned and feral horses. Left
unchecked, excess horses will eat the white sage in Nevada, prairie
grasses in Wyoming, high desert forage in Arizona . They will starve out
the deer, elk, antelope, and sage grouse in Washington. They will
destroy the salmon habitat, sacred ceremonial plants, all before they
destroy themselves. When they do, and the feral horses are gone, what
will be left? For
as well known as the horse market heartbreak is to RANGE readers, much
less is known about the horse overpopulation devastating American Indian
reservations. These are horses not reported in any national census,
they are not included on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) counts, no
horse industry organizations even attempt to keep track. If they aren’t
BLM horses, or privately owned horses, they are basically ignored. Though
no one is keeping any sort of scientific accounting of excess horses on
tribal lands, there are startling numbers out there. Here are a few
horse counts as reported to me:
Yakama Tribe, northern Washington, 16,000 head of feral horses
Warm Springs Tribe, central Oregon, 6,000 head;
Navajo Nation, Arizona, 60,000 -75,000 head.
Shoshone-Bannock, Idaho, 500-600 head
There are dozens more reservations, how many feral or abandoned horses on them is anybodies guess. Inside
and outside of Indian country, the U.S. horse market as we knew it is
in the tank. No part of the industry, or its satellites, have been
spared. Horse ranchers, livestock auction owners, veterinarians, horse
rescue missions, trainers, rodeo contractors, and horse enthusiasts
throughout America are well aware of the dismal market for horses.
Tragic stories include 7,000 horses abandoned on the Appalachian Trail,
350 in the hills east of Los Angeles, some eastern states posting
guards on state parks to ensure no horses are left within. The numbers
of abandoned and abused horses increases yearly as financially strapped
families lose their homes and corrals. Since
2007, when the last horse processing plant closed, horse owners have
faced a perfect storm of the market crash and depressed economy, and no
legal way to dispose of valueless horses. This downturn results in
460,000 direct horse industry jobs lost, and over a million jobs in
manufacturing, sales, and service at feed stores, saddle shops, and
horse-related services, nationwide. At a time when record unemployment
is a national concern, these are jobs America cannot afford to lose. “All
our models of dealing with abandoned, feral, or estray (undetermined
ownership) horses, were based on the horses having a value,” says Chuck
Jacobs, a Sioux from South Dakota. “Without that value, we have a huge
problem, and no tools.” This
national man-made disaster has hit tribes hard. This past January, at
the South Point Casino in Las Vegas, the United Horsemen (a 501c3 non
profit educational and charitable organization devoted to the well being
of horses and horse people) hosted an international forum to address
these problems. At least a dozen tribes were represented, and many
members were invited to speak. It was a lively and spirited discussion,
but not a debate. Every attendee agreed that something needs to be done
to alleviate the damage that equine overpopulation has done to America. At
the Summit we heard from Jason Smith, Warm Springs Tribes, who talked
about their efforts to utilize local feral horses, and create local
jobs. Warm Springs has petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs for funds
to study the creation of a horse processing plant--perhaps a module
type that could be disassembled and moved from tribe to tribe. Dr.
Glenda Davis,Program Director, Navajo Nation Veterinary and Livestock
Program, had to tell us twice--60,000 to 75,000 feral horses? That is a
hard number to imagine. A thousand corrals full, a thousand truckloads.
During long, cold winters, hot dry summers, these starving, defenceless
animals draw predators like a magnet. Once the die-off is over, the next
thing on the menu will be Navajo chickens, sheep, goats, calves, and
colts. “Navajos, beware.” Jim
Stephenson, Big Game Biologist and Wild Horse Project Leader for the
Yakama Nation Wildlife Program describes for us a traditional system of
horse management that has been abruptly eliminated by the loss of a
market for slaughter horses. What he describes in reference to the
Yakama Nation can probably be overlaid on just about any other
land-based tribe in the country...especially in the semi-arid grasslands
of the West.
horses are an integral part of Yakama tradition and culture. In the
early days horses were used for transportation and packing. In this
modern age horses are still used by Yakama cattlemen, as well as for
hunting, rodeos and parades.
the earlier period horses herds were managed by individual families and
their numbers were generally kept in balance with the available forage.
Historic evidence indicates that Yakama people were capturing horses
for the slaughter market at least as far back as the first part of the
last century. For many years the slaughter market as well as the market
for saddle stock was what kept horse numbers at more or less a
the past few years fewer and fewer horses were being captured and sold
and for the last 4-5 years almost no horses have been gathered due to
loss of viable markets. During the last four years horse numbers have
doubled from approximately 6000 to over 12,000 head. This is at least
10-12 times the carrying capacity of the land and most of the forage is
completely gone on the majority of the 400,000 acre range area. On a
condition scale of one to ten most of the horses fall at or below a
situation has created an ecosystem breakdown that has impacted game
animals including deer, elk and bighorn sheep, game birds including the
recently re-introduced sage grouse, cultural food and medicine plants,
and fish and other aquatic resources including endangered salmonids.
There is already a considerable loss of native plants and if the
situation isn’t resolved soon recovery will take decades and in many
areas the landscape won’t recover without a substantial effort at
has created what I call a broken spoke within the wheel and the wheel
is beginning to wobble within the ecosystem. Which in fact is on the
verge of collapsing!” says Arlen Washines, Yakama, “A resource going
unchecked is the sound of death to other resources that rely on the same
or identical food sources, not to include the damage to the soil and
water. The loss of traditional ceremonial foods and medicines is and
would be devastating to tribal members when all of our ceremonies rely
on them for subsistence. The question is, do we sacrifice all of our
sacred foods and medicines to protect the very source that is damaging
speaks for the tribes, and for the rest of us impacted by too many
feral horses without a slaughter market to sell to when he says, “unless
a management control method is created, including humane slaughter,
within the next five years, our Yakama Herd will grow to enormous size
uncontrollably. At some point in time, all will be lost! Remember, it
is a human problem, not a horse problem. And we as humans can change
our ways--but, the horse cannot!” The
day is not far away when the tribes who care about their land, their
sacred plants, their wildlife, and their livelihoods will have to not
only contemplate, but have to implement drastic measures to eliminate
thousands and thousands of feral horses to protect the ecological
balance of native lands. How much better that would be if it were not a
total waste, if that good meat could be used to feed starving children?
If the tribes could receive good value for their excess horses?
Re-employ their traditional horse catchers, and provide new jobs in
modern state-of-the-art processing facilities? What
HSUS/PETA did when they closed the horse slaughter plants was to take
one fairly responsible and workable solution, and turn it into a
plethora of nasty, unsolvable, expensive problems. For the sake of the
tribes, their horses, their homelands, and their long-term futures we
need to restore the markets for horse meat, and allow them to return to
their traditional methods of management. We need to help fix the broken
spoke in Arlen Washines’ wobbly wheel. For more information, or to view the entire proceedings of the Summit of the Horse, visit http://United-Horsemen.org.
THAT OLE NIGHTTIME COMES A CREEPIN
LIKE A SHADOW CROSS A TRACK,
YOU CAN FEEL IT ON YER BACK
TILL IT SEEMS REAL BIG AND EMPTY
YOU CAN FEEL YOUR COURAGE FADE
JUST ANOTHER CHILD OF NATURE
HEARIN CRICKETS SERENADE.
TIMES GET BRONKY IN THE MORNIN
SOUNDS AND COMBAT FILL THE AIR,
MINDS AND MUSCLES SET TO DOIN
LIKE NOBODIES GOT A CARE
FROM HORIZON TO HORIZON
UNDOMESTIC BEEF TO FIND,
RIDERS SALLY LIKE COLUMBUS
OR MAGELLAN IN THEIR MIND
BUT EVENING FINDS EM GATHERED
RESTIN EASY, LIKE AS NOT
TAKIN STOCK AND TELLIN STORIES
THEY SPREAD THE BEDROLLS WHERE IT'S HANDY
(AND THEY DON'T WALK TOO FAR TO PEE)
THE WHOLE WORLD'S INSIDE ONE FIRELIGHT, CUZ
--THATS AS FAR AS YOU CAN SEE.
Pored in long dry reservoirs
make us check our head-gates
to precious for ruralites
They make us let it go . . . a peculiar new-age dyslexia
That says urban toilets are
More important than row-cros.
On Finite Introspection,
Divorce and suicide are in Vogue again
Viet vets give lessons to poetential
Old-Crow-magnons in places where you
Bring two jugs,
and stay all week.
The History of Rural Sub-City is a popular
College Class, everybody gets an A
Nobody gets a credit
The chanting crowds scream for ice cream,
Dolly Dairy Juice, lactation biorymes.
Hunger makes them harder
...then a call girls heart on a pay-day weekend,
They scowl in hateful lines,
But the food truck drivers
all have families, and do not come back.
Them whose wealthy stars
got em a Visa Platinum,
Pray the Eco-sanctuary gates don't bust,
and the roving bands of
Run out of knock-knock jokes,
and self in-jest.
De-vested bunches of us
bow-legged all-so rans
Who wait for bells in big hotels,
Watch the bureau-hypo-condrycrats
Who got big raises for running us in
(and adopting us out) and
Smile at last, watching them whine,
And pray for rain, just like we
used... to do .
Some ex-Colonel will volunteer
to drop surprise napalm on Yellowstone,
& make the wolfhunt
Bangs thinned out the Buffalo
and makes the local poachers undulant.
Eco-conscious LasAngels do the christian
They scour the old growth, the new growth,
and eat the loggers...last.
Its not an election year, so no help comes
from Washington. Besides, after
Five days without food, the nice clean folks
are just another mob.
The Yupping Legions
yup, and curse the selfish
Generation that dreamed up
This Damned "World Peace" Idea,
And jammed it down their throats,
and ruined their lives.
Hungry Savages, stalking
each other, abandon language,
re-embrace handsignaling, then telepathy.
Ma Bell stocks plummet. There is much blame,
Many lawyers volunteer unselfishly
to prosecute, but the villianous ranchers
and farmers are gone, and cannot be made to atone.
[written for and published in Rod's 20th high school reunion book]
At first, I thought this might be funny
I'd crack some jokes, and take your time
Poke some fun, rough up some feelings
Among this class of '69.
Some sex and whiskey innuendo
I'd laugh loud, and play so free
With some high school jokes
For the high school kids
That we all used -- to be.
But -- it couldn't satisfy me
There is no way we'd be amused
Though we might hide the lie, with laughter
As some friends feelings were abused.
Besides, I feared jokes might cloud the content --
And at the picnic, or the dance
I might miss the opportunity,
And may not get another chance
To bring my friends this message
That I will call a "Comfort Seed."
In your memory, let it blossom
Take comfort -- anytime you need.
If you've been wishing things were different
If part of your life's -- been a mess
Wish that you didn't need a gray toupee
Or maybe -- wear a smaller dress
If some romance has turned -- to ashes
Somehow, you missed your shining star
In this room, your friends --
I watched him for a while before he committed. After checking the night smells and satisfied of the quiet, he came, slow and easy across the pasture like a ghost. He knew every brush in the swale by the banana trees, and it occurred to me this must be his father's field. His field. He never knew we were there. Mega watches for spooks, and I, flat down beside a knee-high bush, behind a Remmington Model 700 sniper rifle, gaze through a starlite scope designed specifically to shoot people from ambush in the dark.
The 700 is a fairly heavy weapon, and with the bipod supporting the barrel, it was ridiculously easy to keep the cross-hairs on his neck. "Just above center-mass," our old gunny used to say, "let the bullet drop, and you still get somethin." It's one soft trigger squeeze, and the echo of the sound, wop! or smack! tells you if you hit gut or bone. He turns, testing the night, and the peculiar cant of a rifle swings out from behind his back, funny gap between barrel and gas tube gives it away. He's packing an AK-47, an ugly thing with a stock made of pine, or quakie, and a pitchfork. He's carrying a pitchfork.
"We had a hired man," my Dad would say, "about the strongest I ever saw. He'd get tired and just break his fork handle--we were feeding loose hay then--and he'd be done. You can't work with a broken fork. This was along in November. So I told the old man about it, and he got mad and wanted me to can this guy. I'd bought about a half a dozen handles by then, and that was quite a sum. I told the old man, 'let me keep him for a couple more weeks, I think I can get some work out of him.' I went to town, and got Sam, the blacksmith to make a muscle-proof fork for our muscle-man. Handle, tines, everything was made out of drill steel. That damned fork weighed ten pounds or so. I put it under the wagon to have it ready, but our boy didn't break a fork for a couple of weeks. I guess he wanted to rest at Christmas, so he did his little trick, and got ready to ride home sitting down on the hayrack."
It took Dad a while, the steel fork was froze to the wagon frame--but he finally got it out. "Merry Christmas, Dave," he says, and presented him with that steel son-of-a-gun. Dave strained like a champion to break or bend that fork. He tried and tried. Tore big chunks out of the tops of the stacks, moved slabs of ice most men wouldn't even try. But he never even so much as warped a tine on that fork. He hurt his back on New Years, and quit on the 3rd of January.
"I had good help for about a week," Dad said.
The fork stood behind the anvil in our old shop for years, until my youngest brother Jimmy cut it up for gate sticks in FFA shop class.
My enemy steps out into the open, where I can see the way he drags his left foot. An old war wound? Probably. This man has never known a life without war. He swings his head in time with that bad leg, a reptilian movement that makes him seem Neanderthal.
"He could climb just like a monkey," Granddad's eyes twinkle at the excuse to tell this, his favorite story. "He would take two pitchforks, one in each fist, and pull himself right up the stack hand over hand. Good stacker, good man. Except," twinkle, twinkle, "he was afraid of heights. Terribly afraid of heights."
"We finished a stack one afternoon, and somebody moved the Jenkins stacker before he could get on it and climb down. I heard him yelling. He wouldn't even come over to the edge of the stack to look down. "It's going to be alright," I yelled to him, "I'll get a rope." It took a while, but I finally convinced him to hold onto the rope, and slide down, while I held the other end around my hip. "You ready?" he says. "Ready." "Holding the rope good and tight?" "Good and tight," I said. "And then," Granddad can't hold the chuckles back any longer, "PLOP. He hit the ground right beside me."
Mega suddenly stiffens beside me, and I know he has finally seen the farmer. I feel the subtle pressure of his elbow, and push it back. Yeah, I see him. He is so close, so easy, I could waste him now without even looking through the scope.
"Goddam Zip," his words are as soft as flowers in my ear. His smells mix with the whispering. "Shoot him."
"He's a farmer." The risk we take moving and making noise at this distance grows with his every step. I wish he would hear us. If he jerked that rifle down, I would know who he is, I could protect my partner and myself. I could feel justified. "He's a damn farmer."
"Bullshit," Mega snarls in my ear, "he's got a rifle. Shoot him."
I don't want to kill him. I don't want to feel justified. I don't want this pitchfork story.
"Shoot." Mega's whispered screaming pressures my head, trembles my right index finger. "Shoot."
peace has always been just some sunny sky between firestorms never the rain the warm evenings in summer the silent falling snow that lets the seasons work that keeps our boys down on the farm, and out of pair-ee
passion justice promotions defence contracts do not bloom in peace
i must say the thought of saddam, weeping, chained to a turret on an allied tank top speed heading west delights me still.
but there must be a formula for the number of children who must suffer and starve weaken and perish for every hard-hearted war criminal made to atone.
i wonder at the cost, turning innocent babies into hollow eyed amputees loverless, careless wretches without hope, martyrs before puberty.
they will get no parade.
but the least of us still know a hasty addled hate-ocratic button push could turn some squat olive-drab cylinder into fire that could vaporize us all.
cold harbor greasy-grass the alamo hiroshima firebase julie will be sacrifices for nothing.
sky falling, klaxons sounding the better angels of our nature will be led weeping into whoredom
From the snowdrifts in the canyons,
behind the granite and the pinion
Past the trout and beaver,
where young quakies crowd to share;
From the icy plaster caked
across the mountain goat's dominion
Comes the lifeblood of our valley,
as it tumbles down from there.
How it gurgles, almost chuckles
past the boulders and the gravel.
Cheerfully, it detours
through the ditches man might make.
With only gravity, it's master,
it always knows which way to travel;
Warm and foamy, ever downward,
through the sloughs toward the lake.
There the bullrush stops the ripples,
where sheets of ice are dying.
The waxing sun shows promise
that the winter's lost its sting.
Overhead, the floating regiments
of geese formations, flying,
Driven northward to their nesting grounds,
by instinct, every spring.
In one pasture by the water,
tired pension horses wander.
They wait for my alfalfa,
and the sun to conquer cold.
In the middle ground, 'tween
active duty, and the promised yonder,
They don't think about the scenery.
They are thin, and tired, and old.
Last among these pensioners,
one sorrel gelding stumbles,
With swollen joints and seedy toe,
you see why he's so lame.
He's lost his youth, but not his dignity.
He would die before he humbles.
He was my Dad's top saddle horse,
and Woody is his name.
I never cared for Woody,
he's not the kind of horse I cling to,
He was hard to catch and fussy,
And he never made a pet,
But he would jump at cattle,
And that is one thing he would do.
And he had the heart of giants,
I can still recall it--yet.
We were bringing calvy heifers
from a close and handy pasture,
Bus rode bronco Woody,
'cause he had a lot to learn.
One heifer broke, they ran to head her,
Held their ground, and stopped disaster.
With dewclaws cutting circles,
they beat that cow at every turn...
So she ran blind for the willows;
Bus and Wood had to race her,
Nose to nose, and pushing shoulders,
As she made this frantic try,
And they pushed her in a circle,
till she quit, and they could face her.
Because Buster wouldn't weaken,
and Woody -- did not let her by.
And now, I watch him strain to shuffle.
I touch my rifle, 'neath the seat.
A friend to suffering horses.
At this range, I could not miss.
He'd find green pastures in an instant.
For my Dad, I'd do it neat,
He'd never hear the whisper.
Never feel the Nosler's kiss.
But the cranes have come. They're dancing,
as the spring sun melts the snow.
Oh, I know I'll need that rifle,
on some cold, November day.
But for a sorrel colt, who beat
a wringy heifer, long ago,
I'll just go about my business,
Unitl this feeling -- goes away.
There ought to be another wall White, bright, pretty In a grove of trees with picnic tables, dance floor, and a Viet Vet ragtime band. A happy place where Folks could go to laugh and dance and argue Football teams and candidates. On the White Wall, there would be A tremendous list of those Who didn't die. Behind each name, a little heart...for a fulfilling marriage a little happy face...for a well-adjusted child, a little diploma...for a valuable education, a rewarding life.
Everyone is welcome here, To cool drinks, rummy games, To meet interesting people who Talk, laugh, have fun, wander off. Live. To celebrate our survivorhood. Not mourn our stolen martyrdom.
There are some who will Have to be shown The White Wall. Taken to their own name and told "There, by God, is proof."
Reading from the big book fat from bookmarks and folded pages Paul lifts his face to the horizon the English words sail from the Russian mind past the Polish Cowboy's black mustache, and Moonshine-busted ivory, Blossoming ranch-raised hearts to near bursting, near breaking with joy and pain we almost fear but can't resist
Reciting from the big book, Yevgeny claws his hands, flits and snarls, codetalking freedom no government censor could ignore, Coliseums full of cheering fans tearfully applaud, No dignity-starved citizen would ever misunderstand.
Celt exranchers watch the buckaroo backdrop blur The Siberian music and message of downtrodden, enslaved humanity escaping like our universal dreams of freedom, into the neon-lit casino-town January night so easy, so damned easy... We wonder why the Russian government wasted sixteen years pretending This truth might fade away.
Cousins now, the Polish ex-bareback riggen hand trembling, holds the big book the words of "Babi Yar," unread, record His unknown great-uncles murdered and pit buried score by score, for a Boone and Crockett contemptible cowardice few top hand grief riders can mark, both sides.
Arms floating, Yevgeny twists like a gumby gnome, feminine arcs of wrist and chin, ground-even teeth flashing, guttural half-shouting "Dwarf Birches!"
When they both are done, we stand together, and by God, no paltry governments can stem our truth, deflower our one, divine humanity, warp our spines- twist our limbs- and leaves-- tonight.
Reports of my sizable personal fortune have
been modestly exaggerated. No, my precious wife and I do not live in a
castle on snob hill. We rent a modest place in Starr Valley, Nevada, and
raise kids. Sue has three, I have four, seven- (count 'em again) seven,
between us. We always have some, and
sometimes a lot...of kids. So I am always on the lookout for ways to
make our existence easier, especially about making them all chip in on
the chores. Here are a couple of innovations that might help.
Oogla, our Neanderthal sixteen year old, recently broke his mother's
favorite bread-mixing bowl. Oogla grunted and pointed excitedly,
apparently meaning he washed it successfully, but the heap of dishes and
chunks of food already in the drainer prevented a basketball style
slam-dunk, so he broke it dribbling back for a three-pointer.
We tried to glue it all back together, but a couple pieces must have
fallen in my stew-of-the-week, (jerky and rice) and got lost. It was
Humpty-Dumpty deja vu. Oogla was done with his dish washing chores by
then, so we went back to killing bugs with a hammer.
of you who are not yet aware of my prowess as an inventor may be
surprised to learn that I am not just another pretty face. It is my
visionary skill behind those highly successful combination vasectomy
clinic-tuxedo rental shops..(Be Impotent, Look Impotent!) -So I know
you'll be as excited as I am about my latest invention, "Oogla-ware"
...teenage-dishwasher safe table tools for proper ladies and gentlemen.
The plates will be high tinsel graphite, same as the Lear Jet bodies. I
personally tested twenty five Oogla dishes by dropping them eighty
stories from a high-rise building recently. None broke, but the sidewalk
was chipped severely, and a parking meter was sheared off by a
ricochet. Several dishes got kind of messy, but only because those
stupid pedestrians wouldn't stay back. For the Viking in the family, the
matching bowls will be hand for use as helmets and battering ram tips.
I personally designed and offer gorgeous titanium wine glasses, able to
withstand our homemade washing and drying accidents without showing a
scratch or a dent. When you give a stirring toast and throw one of these
babies across your hearth, it's "Goodby Mr. Fireplace." On the morning
after one of these toast-giving parties, just dig your Oogla-glasses out
of the ashes and broken chunks of brick, and you'll find they'll be as
good as new.
The flatware is not only very, very pretty, but a
new design I worked out myself. Each lovely piece is a combination fork
and spoon on one end, knife on the other. This greatly simplifies the
silverware drawer, eliminating the stupid and confusing divider where
your teen dish-doer had to suffer that time consuming job of identifying
all those forks, knives, and spoons individually. Grab a couple of
these new "knifoons," and you are ready for everything from a crisp
tossed salad to large animal surgery. To set merely put one on each side
of your Oogla-plate, blades turned in. I tested these by prying up
man-hole covers, and they work just dandy.
Oogla bent one, but I still don't know how. I think he was chewing it and fell down.
Have you watched your teen slog through knee-deep dirty clothes and not
see them? Suffered the heartbreak and embarrassment of learning the
missing airline with 300 doomed passengers...crashed in his
bedroom...and he didn't notice?
Let me introduce my cruddy-teen
bedroom final solution...Mess-seeing glasses. You and your partner get a
pair for each teen and revel in ecstasy as they recoil in horror from
all that crap on the floor and walls that they have ignored so well, so
long. I suggest the optional lockable full-face motorcycle helmet with
the mess-seeing visor. Oogla couldn't get it off, and it was a
particular pleasure to watch him notice the fresh-broken brush and
damaged fence when he finally gave up trying. You'll also find the
built-in scream-dampening muzzle a nice touch when company comes.
For the truly cleaning impaired, I offer parents the last, best hope for a kinder, cleaner household...a seeing-mess dog.
The dirt road
short-cut into my little rural community gets a little muddy after a
rainstorm. The base of the roadbed is mostly clay, so after it gets
soaked up it becomes the kind of stuff that looks like cake mix
moistened with motor oil. This stuff is so slick that my pickup doesn't
care which end goes first down our old rutted road, which adds lots of
driving excitement to an otherwise simple commute.
I sneaked over a few times during some post-rain greasy mud-days last
week, and thought my superior dirt-road driving skill would get me
safely home one more time, but I was wrong, and before long, boy-oh-boy,
was I stuck. I slipped right off the road and got in the glop along the
I didn't want to walk the five miles home very
bad, so I dug the wheels out several times to get ready. When I was
finally ready, I walked home.
My neighbor and buddy, Hal [that would be Hal Cannon],
offered to help me, and we pulled it out the next morning while the mud
was frozen solid. Getting it on the road and going again wasn't such a
big deal, except that about three hundred yards of the road still clung
to my old pickup.
To tell you the truth, I could hardly
recognize it. The front wheels had thrown mud all over the hood and cab,
and the underside looked like something from a low budget swamp-monster
movie. I am an immaculate guy at heart, and I vowed to wash it sometime
It probably wasn't even a week later that I had my
crud-mobile in town, and took it down to the washer-place. I was getting
less compliments on my pickup than usual, plus I was sick of the little
chunks of adobe hitting me in the face, driving along with my head out
the side window like an engineer so I could see.
Down at the
car wash, I decided to use that little wand-sprayer to wet the whole
mess down first, then get the details perfect on a second pass. Well, I
was out of quarters before the mud quit absorbing the water from the
sprayer. Nothing dripped, but the tires got fatter and fatter. I decided
not to use the foaming brush.
Ten dollars in quarters later, I
gave up. Little odd-shaped things underneath kept reflecting flying mud
and spray back in my face, and I couldn't see enough to know what I was
washing. I had hydro-carved big globs out of the insides of the wheels,
off the brakes and frame, scrubbed clear down to the glass on the
windshield. It looked pretty good, I thought. My face, hat, coat and
glasses were so dirty, I couldn't see to tell.
later at twenty miles an hour, my pickup nearly wobbled itself to
pieces. The tires were still out of balance from chunks of overlooked
mud inside the brakes and wheels. I couldn't keep it in the road the way
it was, so I went straight back to the washer-place to try again.
I had to use a different stall, someone was stuck in the one I had just
left. I swear, if you want to get around in this country in the spring,
you should have a four-wheel drive.
This time, with clean
glasses and a joyful heart, I determined to get my pickup perfectly
spotless. I sprayed the heck out of the wheels, the driveline, the trim,
the headlights. I just wouldn't take "dirty" for an answer. "Mr.
Impeccable" was on a roll. It might have been the last ten minutes of a
Rambo movie. All the bad dirt just had to go down.
right about then, I noticed a couple of things about my old Dodge pickup
for the very first time. Like the bumper sticker for a candidate I had
never heard of. Or the little "F250" sign on the fender. The Montana
If, dear reader, by chance you might have
gotten stuck on the dirt road into Starr Valley, Nevada, a couple of
weeks ago, walked off and left a blue Ford with Montana plates and a
"Stuben for Clerk" bumper sticker, and got a white Dodge with a flat bed
and squeaky brakes in exchange for it, I am willing and able to trade
you back. But the Dodge had better be clean.
If life were just one April day And I should wake, mid-afternoon To feel the sunshine on my shirt, Warm scattered raindrops wet my cheek, I'd marvel with my newborn eyes At the beauty I had never seen.
If life should be one April day, I'll not pine for a morning lost Nor mourn some teenage innocence.
But hand in hand, my love and I Will lift one cup for fallen friends Then, our business done, We'll laugh till wrinkles frame our eyes.
And in these final precious hours We'll celebrate the eveningtime.