A Strange Effect

Often I have spent three, four days in the desert alone, without even seeing another human being. I love the solitude, the brush with loneliness. I don’t talk to myself. I already know what I’ll say in response. The silence, and then the wind, it’s soothing, I relish it.

And I’ll leave to return to my little civilization, anxious for an interaction with my fellow man. A word, a smile, I’ll go into a store, a matter of convenience. I fix myself a cup of coffee. go to the counter and grin like an idiot. The clerk asks, “Will there be anything else for you today?” I shake my head from side to side. I do not care for the first word out of my mouth to be “No.”

I pay and the clerk says, “You have a nice day.”

I’m still grinning like an idiot.

I go to say, “Yes, thank you, and you too.”

My lips form the first word, but nothing comes out. My vocal chords are relaxed from not being used. Nothing comes out but a small, deep rumbling building up as I continue. I finish with the word, “… too” in a dark tone, about four octaves deeper than usual.

I still have that foolish grin on my face.

The clerk has a puzzled look on his.

I flash him a ‘thumbs up.’ Then with one hand I act like I’m ‘signing’ something to him.

He still has that puzzled look.

I still have that stupid grin.

I go out the door–embarrased.

I get in the truck and try to sing “Sherry” by Franki Valli, in a high voice as I’m driving down the road. It comes out bizarre and awkward. It’s like the reverse effect of helium. It cracks me up.

And I still have that grin on my face.

~w

The Day I Found GOLD!

Check this out–I think it’s gold. The piece of quartz is very heavy for its size, and it sure looks like gold to me. I doubt it’s pyrite (fool’s gold). I’ll have an expert look at it next time he comes around, or I go over there. Until proven otherwise, that’s my story.

picyure of gold in quartz
Quartz with streak which might be gold, might not too!

I’ve always been a bit leery of finding gold, so I don’t pay all that much attention. I figure if I found some I’d get the ‘fever’ and be good for nothing always looking for more. I like what I do out there and would rather keep doing it than be possessed by a never-ending search for the illusive yellow metal- That’s what happens sometimes.

So when I picked this up I brought it home and threw it in a box. That was more than a few years ago. I forgot all about it until going through the whatnot I keep in the darkest recesses of my patio.

I dragged the box out of the corner and looked inside. There it was. I picked it up and, man, was it heavy! I blew the dust off, got it a bit wet, and could see a somewhat speckled streak through it. “That’s gold,” I thought.

It has been so long since I found it, and I know that wherever I picked it up, it was legal for me to do so. Just can’t remember where I got it. I do remember there was plenty more of it where I found it–that stuff was laying all over the place! This was the smallest piece.

So, somewhere out there is a tiny fortune in gold, just laying there on the dirt. Amazing. I’m glad I can’t remember where I found it though. I still would rather take pictures than look around for rocks that would eventually break my heart not being what I thought they were.

And So On …

A sunny clearing in the brush; Papa Quail cautiously steps into the edge, and again to survey the surroundings for movement, for the eyes of a predator or sign of danger. Several seconds the bird is motionless. Papa chirps and sends the high sign. Then a diminished brood, what was once six, or seven, or eight, follows–charges across the clearing with Mom Quail bringing up the rear. The children rush to the edge and frantically search for seeds, small bugs, nourishment for their tiny, rapidly growing bodies. Momma carefully watches the rear. Papa scouts ahead. And so on, and so on, and so on …

Quail in the Mojave Desert
Quail on the march …

The Hibernater

Hard Rock Shorty of Death Valley

Hard Rock Shorty was in a talkative mood, and the dudes lolling on the leanto porch in front of the Inferno store were making the most of it. They plied him with questions and
Shorty always had an answer that amused them.

“The laziest man I ever know’d was slower than a sand dune on a calm day,” Hard Rock  was saying.

“Pisgah Bill an’ me found this feller sittin’ in his old jalopy which looked as if a flock o’ 17- year locusts had nested in it fer two seasons.

“We asked him where he wuz goin’. ‘Nowheres,’ he said. ‘Don’t need nothin’ so why should I be bustlin’ around Iookin’ fer somethin’. Got a can o’ water an’ a box o’ eggs. Yu don’t need much to eat and drink if yu don’t move much,’ he splained.

“I seen he wuz parked right in the path o’ one o’ them marchin’ sand dunes, an’ I warned him he’d better not stay there too long ’cause a big wind storm’d bury
him.

” ‘Let ‘er march,’ he says. ‘If camels and tortoises can live buried in the sand, so can a
superior bein’ like man.’

“Me and Pisgah figgered we’d done all we could fer the crazy galoot, and we went on an’ left him sittin’ there with his box o’ eggs. It wuz five weeks before we came back that way agin, an’ there wuz that same good-fernothin’ sittin’ in the same spot where we left him. That sand dune had marched right over him and wuz jest leavin’ an the ol’ feller wuz shakin’ the sand outta his hair.

“He told us he wuz- glad things happened the way they did. He’d had a nice long rest. He’d proved that man is as good as them hibernatin’ things like turtles, an’ that box of eggs had hatched out the finest batch o’ fluffy little chickens yu ever seen — which wouldn’t ‘ave happened if he had et the eggs in the first place.

” ‘Sure beats gallopin’ around the country,’ he says.”

– Desert Magazine – Jan. 1958