Pages

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Catcher in the Sage

(version one)


Soon after secreting away one of the silver-laden pantechnicons in a remote high desert area; I rendezvoused with Amy and the bus-load of eager school children she had driven down for our overnight field trip at Trapezoid Lake. By evening twilight we gathered enough dry sage for a small campfire near the wall tents, along with some out-of-this-world rabbit stew that Amy had cooked up. As nearby planets etched their elliptical orbits against the Milky Way’s silvery fog, the children appetites were whet for story time.


Feeling like a young Ivan Swaner, spinning a fanciful tale, I recounted how we had discovered substantial silver in the cairns, aided by Clark’s anagram clue. As the sage grouse settled down in the background from their ritualistic mating dances; I announced to the children that they would soon have some input as to how we should invest the second silver wagon stuffed full of cash. I glanced at Amy across the smoky campfire, and as she leaned with Bud against the wagon, something good stirred inside me. I appreciated how she had taken care of my pets while I was on the wild Red House, Nevada adventure; and now she had even brought the schoolchildren down for this beautiful spring overnight excursion. I was starting to look at her in a brighter light, when suddenly that well-worn copy of Catcher in the Rye flashed at me from her back pocket.


All of a sudden, I practically snapped. Just when I thought that Amy was somebody that I could start spending some quality time with, Holden Caulfield stood brazenly in the way. My hand snatched the cursed book from her pocket and in one motion flung it angrily toward the sputtering campfire. It bounced off a river rock and opened to the page where Holden was trying to scrub off some expletive graffiti from his school wall. Some of our schoolchildren were aghast; for this was a side of me they were unaccustomed to seeing. My voice had risen and I started lecturing Amy that she was allowing herself to become snared by the wrong books. I sternly warned her about poring over this dangerous book; especially if she was going to have it near the children. And with that, and my drumming voice overpowered the last sage grouse murmurs, signifying an end to the spring mating season. To top it off, I howled at Amy, “Why don’t you try reading, a couple of nice zesty Vardis Fisher romance novels, instead?”


Fortunately, by then, several of the schoolchildren had already drifted off to sleep under the peaceful stars. I apologized for my loud intensity to the handful still awake, a little late for me to consider that some of them probably never camped out before and may have been easily frightened. But none seemed too upset. On the contrary, it felt as they were gaining a valuable learning experience - which is exactly what field trips are made for. And for the second half of our outing we would be dragging the second silver pantechnicon wagon over to Chalk Cave, near the new airport location.



Courting in the Sage

(version two)

Soon after secreting away one of the silver-laden pantechnicons in a remote high desert area; I rendezvoused with Amy and the bus-load of eager school children she had driven down for our overnight field trip at Trapezoid Lake. By evening twilight we gathered enough dry sage for a small campfire near the wall tents, along with some out-of-this-world rabbit stew that Amy had cooked up. As nearby planets etched their elliptical orbits against the Milky Way’s silvery fog, the children appetites were whet for story time.


Feeling like a young Ivan Swaner, spinning a fanciful tale, I recounted how we had discovered substantial silver in the cairns, aided by Clark’s anagram clue. As the sage grouse settled down in the background from their ritualistic mating dances; I announced to the children that they would soon have some input as to how we should invest the second silver wagon stuffed full of cash. I glanced at Amy across the smoky campfire, and as she leaned with Bud against the wagon, something good stirred inside me. I appreciated how she had taken care of my pets while I was on the wild Red House, Nevada adventure; and now she had even brought the schoolchildren down for this beautiful overnight excursion. I was starting to look at her in a brighter light, when suddenly that well-worn copy of Catcher in the Rye flashed at me from her back pocket.


My first inclination was to snatch this cursed book and thrust it toward the sputtering campfire. But then, I caught myself, and remembered how this book has some redeeming qualities, once you learn how to read between the lines. Plus; there was no sense in making a scene in front of the schoolchildren, and tarnishing the sage-grouse courting ritual we had brought them down here for. I could tell that they were into this natural ceremony too, as, when I went into the wall tent to check my e-mail before retiring; I noticed that the group had posted the video of the wildly fluttering grouse they had filmed, onto my Max Rudolph facebook wall.


As the children began to drift off under the starry skies, I delicately reminded them that tomorrow would also be a big day for our group, as we planned to explore that sacred cave area, near where the fresh airport would be built. I wanted them to envision how this proposed project would play a large part in their futures, as well as letting them have an actual say on its impact. Before retiring, Amy and I drew near, and held each other close by the campfire, with the sage grouse romantically murmuring in our background. Like the book in her back pocket, it slowly dawned on me that that there was much more depth to Amy than I had initially recognized; and in this awakening spring atmosphere, I suddenly wanted to learn everything good about her…

To be continued…

About the author: Jim Banholzer, like Holden Caulfield wishes that he could scrub off every bad graffiti expletive from the world’s walls, so his little sister would not have to face its terrible ugliness.

No comments: