Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Superstition Ride - - -Day 3 (afternoon)

Yes! We are back up and running! New machine is here, hooked up, waiting on my tech head nephew to slap the megasticks of RAM. . .but, for now, on with the story.

I amble down to the creekbed with Big Blonde Hans in tow. I see that Silas is doing far more than flirting with the girls. One of them, a slender girl with dark hair who says her name is Ingrid, has her shoes off and Silas is intently looking at the soles of her feet. They are an oozing mass of blisters. It's very obvious that she has been walking through intense pain. I take a closer look and say "Wow, I'm impressed. Only somebody born again hard could walk on that mess." I tell Silas that I will go get my field medical kit from the pack saddle. He looks at me and says "Bring that sure. Then there are some things I want you to gather."

I fetch up the medical kit and spray her feet down with some stuff to ease the stinging. I ask Silas what it is he wants me to get and he says that I should pull him about eight cattails, roots and all and then he gives me a place name in Apache. This works almost as well as a Thomas Guide for identifying exactly where I need to go, he tells me what he wants from the place, then he tells me that along with that he wants some cholla knobs and a couple agave spears (not the tequila agave, but another type).

Ingrid is very impressed. She tells us that she is very honored to be given treatment "just like an Indian." Silas tells her that she isn't being treated like an Apache at all. She looks puzzled and Silas says "No Apache would walk this far on feet like this. An Apache woman would make everybody stop and get herself fixed up." Ingrid takes this in the spirit it was given, and she shoots a murderous look in the direction of Big Blonde Hans. Silas sees the look too. I show Hans how to pull up a cattail roots and all, and he makes himself useful.

I go back to the fire and crumble some hardtack into the hot fat and bacon chunks, along with some jerky shavings, stir it a few times and move it to the outside where it will not cook rapidly. Then I take a chunk of jerky and shave it into a mug. I dump some boiled water over that and leave it to steep. When I go back to where Silas and Ingrid are the other Germans are all gathered around. I tell them that there is some food ready and that they can help themselves. I tell Big Blonde Hans that he won't starve to death overnight if he doesn't want to eat any meat, but I tell him that I have made a cup of jerky broth and he should at least drink that because he needs to get some salt replenished. He nods. Silas asks me to bring a plate down for Ingrid. Then, before I am out of earshot, he asks me if I have any clean socks in my gear. I say I do and he just nods.

I toss some of the hardtack/bacon/jerky goop into a tin plate and take it down to Ingrid with a chunk of hardtack to use as a scooper. I also bring a bag of water that I hang right nearby.

I pull out my Pennywhistle and play "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" and, just like she always does, Rosalita comes trotting up, nickering in anticipation of a licorice treat. The Germans are impressed. I tell them that this isn't any indian mamba jahamba voodoo stuff, that each of my horses has a theme song. When they hear that song they know that if they come over to me there is licorice or some other wonderful treat to be had. I say "No magic at all, just plain old conditioned response straight out of Skinner." I ask if any of them can ride and aren't afraid to climb some rocks. In a stroke of wonderful luck the very pretty, nordic blonde goddess type introduces herself as Schatzie and says "I climb rocks and ride." I finsh saddling Rosalita and whistle up "Poor Wandering One" which brings Sally running. I snatch my cousin's saddle and bosal and get her all tricked out. Then I grab a bag of water and tell Schatzie that it's "Boots and Saddles" time. I tell the others that I will be back soon and ask them to please keep an eye on Ingrid and Silas, in case they need anything. I also tell them to please be careful and to remember to drink lots of water. I suggest that if they get really bored they can bring up some creek water, boil it for at least five minutes and then fill up the empty bags.

Schatzie and I start out. I tell her that Sally will keep up with Rosalita and I fine and that she really doesn't have to do much riding at all. Schatzie straightens up in the saddle and starts to demonstrate that she knows her stuff. I give an approving glance and bring the pace up to a trot. I tell her that it's probably around 36 degrees (I figure since I'm dealing with a European I'd convert to Centigrade) and that if the heat becomes a problem to please tell me before it turns dangerous. We ride at a decent clip for about 40 minutes to come to the side canyon that Silas described. We ride about a half mile into that and come to a cliff face that has a small waterfall that splashes onto a rockfall. Every plant that we need is right here. Schatzie is totally impressed. I tell her that the Apache name Silas gave me for this place said "two palo verdes at the mouth of the canyon where water and rocks fall together." I tell her that this is a fundamental difference between Apaches and white people. White people drink from a thing. They drink from a well, a spring, a creek, a glass, but it's always at thing. We drink from places. We also don't think that we own any of the land. It doesn't own us either. We belong there, that's all. Just like the trees and the cactus and the coyotes and birds. We belong just like they do. While she's chewing on this I look at the rock face near the waterfall and see a few bunches of E. trifurca or Mormon Tea. I tell Schatzie that this is one of the things that Silas needs for Ingrid. I ask her if she feels OK about making that climb. She says "Very easy. I get that." We dismount and I start to take the tack off of Rosalita so that she can wander around and browse and drink. By the time I'm finished I see that Schatzie has already done the same with Sally. I give her an approving look. I tell her that there are two other types of plant that I need to gather and she scampers up the rock face like a pro with a rigging assist from the top. I'm impressed. I take a blanket and toss it over a cholla which breaks off about six cholla knobs. I take a sharp stick and stick it into each knob, then I burn off the wicked hooked spines with a lighter and toss them into my saddlebags. Then I cut some agave spears and slice off the spines on the edges and stick them in too. By this time Schatzie has come down with her prize. I tell her that we need to wait about a half hour more to give the horses a good rest and we'll head on back to the camp.

I ask her if Ingrid had been complaining about her feet during their hike today and she says "Yes, many times she complain, but Hans always say we are there almost and just a little more walk." She reads the look of disapproval on my face and tells me that Hans isn't that bad of a guy. He was very ashamed of himself for being lost, and not very good at admitting it. I tell her that this is all very human stuff. I ask her what was going on when Silas came by. She said that the girls had all made Hans stop for a while and they were trying to find themselves a bit of shade and comfort, that they had just finished up the very last of their water when they heard Silas riding up. She said he was singing in a very high voice. "It was just like movie." I said that Silas lives for stuff like this. I also tell her that they don't have to worry, we will get them all out safe and sound.

Then I tell her about a theory of mine. I take two pennywhistles (one in D and my trusty big old Bb) and walk over to the waterfall. I tell her that I have always felt that the key of nature is Bb. To demonstrate I play a bit of "The Rakes of Mallow" on the D whistle. I pause to let that sink in and play the exact same figure on the Bb. Schatzie's face lights up and she says "You are exactly right, the Bb is in perfect tune with the sounds of the water." When I play Sally's theme Rosalita comes up along with her. We saddle up and ride back to the others.




Anonymous Constant Comment said...

You are such a tease, MB. Finally...another installment. Glad you're up and running again!


6:48 PM  
Blogger BadTux said...


Wow. I'm impressed. Anybody who can gather chollo without one of them jumping on him is a better man than me :-). (For those of you who have not been in the Sonoran desert, chollo are often called "jumping cactus", though they do not jump, really, they are just very, very bristly and their segments break off easily and next thing you know you have a segment stuck on your pants with the main chollo plant several feet away, as if it had jumped at you).

I raised agave as an ornamental when I lived in Scottsdale. None of mine ever got big enough to flower before I had to move, though the largest one sent out numerous offsets that I dug up over time and transplanted to other places, which generally precedes flowering by a couple of years. I once peeled one of the leaves just to see what it was like inside and suspect I know what is going to be done with it but will wait to see.

I miss Arizona. Too bad my industry died there. A man goes where the work is. But you already know that.

12:51 AM  
Blogger Rez Dog said...

Must be something about German men. I once met a German woman coming up the Kaibab trail in the Grand Canyon on a hot October afternoon. She was flushed red and short on water. I and my companions gave her some water to drink and offered her some to take. When her male companion arrived he was clearly irritated that the woman had accepted our assistance. He refused any water and they both continued walking. I fully expected to hear that the bodies of two German nationals were found on the trail but I never did. Maybe they ran into you and Silas farther along and the male had wizened up as he cllmbed.

7:00 AM  
Anonymous amish451 said...

MB ...glad to see your back. Kept checking every day, this is a riviting story.
What a tracker, Silas ...brings you nordic, blonde, goddess' in from the desert really owe that old man ...

7:25 AM  
Blogger pogo2 said...

Been very busy - travelling and such. How you be? Still like the variax?

8:18 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

the technique for gathering cholla nubs is simple. use a stick to make sure the ground you stand on is clear (very clear), toss a blanket over the top of the cholla and pull it away. it comes back loaded with nubbins. because they are so viciously defended very few belangaana ever took the trouble to do much beyond looking at them and giving them a wide, wide berth. inside the cholla nubs is a beautiful healing sap, more powerful than aloe.

8:41 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i loves me my Variax. i'm demonstrating it at a music store in Mesa next week. the whole sales pitch is "buy this setup and you'll sound like me!" i get a cut.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Sherry said...

glad to read more. i've been checking every day. really, really interesting.

what's a variax??

9:53 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

a variax is the first tricked out electronic guitar that i've ever been willing to spend time with. it is a "modeling" guitar that mimics many great instruments (or your very own flights of fantasy through a software download). it has the potential to really unburden my traveling by reducing the number of guitars that i have to lug.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous blackdog said...

Good to see you back up again. We had chollo in the Mojave too and I once spent the better part of an hour playing vet to a blackdog who is now a spirit who had stepped on a dried piece of one.

He was a good patient and the next day he was good as new.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Sherry said...

thanks. i think i'm old, old , old.

but it sounds really cool. ; )

3:38 PM  
Blogger pogo2 said...

Glad to hear the 'ax is holding up to your needs. I'm sure that if they had your right and left hands, and your 35 or whatever years of experience, they could sound something like you.

I just got a little traveller guitar to take on all these damned trips work has me going on - it's about 30" long, weighs just over 3 pounds, has a piezo pickup and a full scale neck that for the world feels like my strat's neck. I'm gonna get a headphone amp rig for it - any suggestions?

Headed for Myrtle Beach this weekend and through Tuesday - taking the missus and kid so they can lay aroudn on the beach while I listen to boring shit in seminars for half a day x 3, so it could be much worse.

Have a good one, and let me know if you have any experience with/ preference for a headphone amp.

8:06 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

this is the one i pack for amusing myself in hotel rooms

8:39 AM  

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