Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dispatches from a Grassy Knoll

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, and like a coward I will blame my sloth on something entirely beyond my control: The Missoula XC. Yes, another year has come and gone, and with very few exceptions that whole business is wrapped up (if Amanda Carey happens to be reading this, please know that I have not forgotten about your prize money, and that it is on my correspondence to do list filed immediately between “RSVP to Lizzy’s and Alan’s wedding” and “file my 2011 tax return.” Please anticipate its impending arrival).

This blog over the last several posts has taken a turn towards the pensive and introspective (read: boring). While I believe that self-analysis is necessary and therapeutic, I also believe that a blogger can only induce so much eye rolling before his readers decide he’s gone entirely mad and just start waiting for him to become a household name in the police blotter.  So here is a decidedly non-philosophical update on this and that.
I am currently sitting in the shade of a lone ponderosa pine somewhere between Mount Shasta City and Redding, California, wondering how long Darby can keep putting her nose into strange holes in the earth before one will house a badger and she will be treated to a teachable moment. I am grateful to the minds who saw fit to clear-cut this particular swatch of land, as it has given me an unobstructed (except for a spruce tree which holds a number of not-terribly-intimidating No Trespassing signs) view of the Castle Crags and what may or may not be the northernmost fingers of the Sierra Nevada. I have also found here a clear and more or less level place to park Pigasus. On further thought, I sort of wish that they’d just gone all the way and cut that spruce tree down too, because it’s right in the way of my view and them cutting it down before would be less work than me moving my chair now. For me, anyway.

Pigasus. Pigasus Mk. I is my newest travel companion: a 1983 (watercooled) Volkswagen Vanagon. In almost every previous circumstance I have disapproved of naming cars, bikes, and dogs once you’ve got four, and have never done it myself before now.  The change in heart comes from having recently read Travels With Charley. An in depth conversation on why that book suddenly made me feel like it was ok to name this particular vehicle would probably nudge this post to the philosophical, but I will leave you with Steinbeck’s credo that he himself was a sort of pigasus, “earthbound but aspiring.... A lumbering soul but trying to fly...(with)...not enough wingspread but plenty of intention,” and that the ’83 Vanagon bears unmistakable resemblance in both athleticism and silhouette to a sow.

The noble Pigasus, in her natural environs.

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I have resumed writing, far now from the scarred and quiet California landscape and several days later, from the warmth and comfort of my bedroom. The trip has ended and I can say now what superstition and fear kept me from uttering before: somehow, Pigasus made it! Only several days before my intended departure, that porcine minx left me fuming and glum in East Missoula, refusing to start. After dozens of hours of troubleshooting and misdiagnoses and fruitless repairs, and with less than a day to spare, the problem presented itself as a small red wire that had shaken loose and needed only to be reconnected. I suppose that it’s another lesson for life.

P.S.I saw this sign in Oakland. 

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