Tuesday, July 05, 2016

a fourth of july report, more or less, from the entire weekend, is forthcoming. gratefully i am in a place with very few fireworks - the high mountain communities strictly forbid them as these are the dry high mountain communities, and even an errant cigarette or bolt of lightning can wipe out an entire valley. down below, about six thousand feet down, a local desert town is so dry that they also fear any errant firecracker and strictly forbid most of them, though as you get out to white sands and the far desert, you could catch a bush on fire, but it wouldn't go very far. they do have them, people sell them, but things were pretty quiet on the fourth.

i did however run out of navajo tea, and had to go to white sands anyway, as that's the only place that has it besides ruidoso. now it so happens that white sands is a federal government outpost, and federal government has mixed reviews in the far mountain west, although i must say it seems they employ almost everyone, from the forest service to the air force, and even probably the missile range and all the cars with out-of-state and military license plates. but i like them out there at white sands, and they seem to care about the vast gypsum fields and the little neon lizards that live in them, and nature with the sun beating down and the moon coming out so wide and beautiful, with purple mountain ranges way on either side. and sure enough, when i got there, this was actually sunday, day before the fourth, there was a fantastic display of native american pottery.

one painted ceramic bunny rabbit stood out to me. he was bright red and had a fantastic painted design on him. the reason he stood out was that, a few days back, coming from a hike in desert country, an enormous jackrabbit had jumped out in front of my car, and i missed him fortunately, but didn't quite get a good enough look at his coloring. the coloring, of course, would not have been bright red, but it was black and gray, and brownish and light tan all at the same time, and i thought, well that bright red represents those colors pretty well. and, stands out, so people know how you feel when they enter your house.

it was actually my quaker principle, against investing in ornate symbolism, that got me to leave it there. my sister is down on kokopelli and all appropriation of native american symbols, and i'm not so opposed to simple appropriation, a kokopelli or a zia or whatever seems ok to me, but it's drawing myself into have things represent stuff that i have a problem with - crosses, flags, etc. i just don't. so my fourth of july contribution was to leave it there.

but then, today, another trip way through the desert, starting with the steep decline into the desert town first, and an unusually long time trying to find glass recycling. the two missions of this trip were meds and car registration, but they were in el paso, eighty or ninety miles of harsh sunny arid and empty desert. and right away i picked up a hitchhiker. he was going to dog canyon, about ten miles down the road, a cutoff right there in the desert. he was already sunburned from standing out there, but claimed to be in the air force, a doctor, trying to get home to visit his mother, who was dying slowly of cancer out there in dog canyon.

when we got to dog canyon it occurred to me that he could have told me about anything, and i would have believed it, and perhaps wanted to get me off the main road where anything could happen, out there in dog canyon. on the other hand, i probably could have given him a ride way out there on the assumption that all that would be true, and i wouldn't get lost, but alas, i was already nervous about time and just let him off at that desolate corner, with the road to dog canyon shooting out from that desert road, and the mountains ahead maybe two, three miles off the road. he may have had a walk, but also, there were plenty of people living out that way, and i though it was likely someone would give him a hand.

the whole road is border-patrol patrolled, with several guys staring at me at various places, and big white unmarked sedans passing me every once in a while. it goes straight to juarez, once you get down there, and in fact the entire city of el paso seems to sit there and look out at juarez, which is also on a hill. it's like, right there, we look across at each other a lot. and i'm not sure if that's good or bad, given where this country is going. if some dumb rapist comes along and tries to build a wall, who knows. but for the time being, this is the usa, i'm proud of it, and at some point, i got my meds and car registration, and turned around again for the mountains. in the barrios people fire their guns a lot, and i saw two honkin firewarks barns, so obviously they sold quite a bit, but up in the mountains, it was quiet, and that's where i plan to spend the rest of my fourths. a happy independence day to everyone!


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