Friday, December 28, 2012
Treacherous River Crossing
It wasn't a raging torrent that swept me under, nor was the deep flow completely unexpected. It's just that I remembered the crossing to be a bit shallower. Quite a bit it turns out. The week before we had crossed the rain-swelled river in a friends truck. It was a big ol' Ford diesel, the kind that requires a small ladder to crawl into. We chugged through the waist deep current, about 40 yards across, with nary a care. This week, I was alone and in my somewhat smaller Chevy Blazer 4x4. I thought the water had receded since last we met and dove in where it looked like a ranch truck or two had crossed earlier. Chugging and gulping about half way through with water coming up over the hood I realized I might be in a bit over my head (didn't have to search too hard for a metaphor here) I made the crossing with the motor coughing and sputtering and wiped my brow in temporary relief...I had to come back this way again. The second crossing was more eventful.
If I threw up a prayer or two the first time, at the new approach I was burning through the clouds with a ferocious fervency usually reserved for, well, times like this. I was even imploring the help of angels (something I never do) and hoping for a divine stroke of insight as to the condition of the river bed and the water depth etc. Well, I decided to cross a little further to the right, upstream from the first attempt. In hindsight I don't know why I just didn't use the gps /map on the smart phone to see that there was indeed another way home from the other side. Also, I had chest waders in the truck (I was pursuing ducks that morning) and could have easily probed for the shallower crossing point. As it was I hit the water's edge with a tight grip on the wheel, locked in the 4x4 and gently eased her into the green/brown flow hoping for the best and thinking that the worst scenario would be to stall in the very middle and deepest part of the stream. About a third of the way through I had water coming up over the hood again and the tailpipe, fully submerged, gurgled its disapproval. The water then was up to the windshield and flowing up to eye level. I could feel that the rig wanted to float and as I got to midstream the flagging, churning engine with its compartment fully flooded decided it had had enough. In the dead truck all was still save for the beautiful bubbling and trickling sounds as water filled every crevice of the engine's house and started to leak in to the cab itself. As I sat, water was up to my driver's side window, about shoulder's height. My last and seemingly futile desperate cries for help to an ever-hearing (albeit invisible) God mumbled through clenched teeth were exhaled as I turned the key in foolish hope. On the seventh try the engine sputtered to life, I threw it in gear and lugged it out of the abyss hardly able to believe my Christmas miracle. The car chugged and coughed for the first ten miles or so and then was fine and purred like a six cylinder kitten. When once at the ranch and in the safe confines of our little desert studio I got down on my titanium knee and gave thanks...and painted the picture above. (The top one Titled River Crossing...the others are available for purchase on eBay)
Monday, December 24, 2012
Christmas eve greetings to our blogfriends. Now, about Christmas cookies. I was rebuked for my backhanded comments yesterday by my daughter. Christmas cookies ain't what they used to be and I'm gonna stick by my guns on this one. 7 dozen, moderately decorated supposed holiday delectables arrived this week. They were the result of a cookie exchange. I just need to say that, peanut butter, ginger snap and chocolate chip are NOT Christmas cookies. Neither are a number of other no-account pretzel and Hershey-kiss festooned treats that glibly try to pass themselves off as bearers of holiday cheer. As tasty as these wanna-bees might be they have no business horning their way in to the time-honored assortment of sugary seasonal victuals. Chalk it up to the high standards of my glorious Swedish and Polish ancestry or to the frigid northland kitchens where a baking oven served dual purpose but somehow and for some reason I have noticed a definite decline in quality and appearance in recent years. It might just be that the desert southwest, being the cultural hodge-podge that it is, is responsible for this watering down of the most sacred of holiday customs. I have determined, however, that I will not let this dampen my cheerfulness...just hoping someone will see the bar being raised a bit so posterity can continue to experience what this season is really about. Oh, wait a minute, it's about getting presents. I almost forgot.
Here's to almond and chocolate spritz cookies with green sugar and silver balls sprinkled tastefully about. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.