Press "Enter" to skip to content

Keep the land bumpy

Letter from Slim Wolfe

American life – May 2002 – Colorado Central Magazine


First, thanks to Colorado Central for sparking a dialogue about war. I have enjoyed all the letters which have been printed. Though I am not the religious sort I trust you will all join me in this fervent hope (prayer, if you wish):

Since none of the major players in the airliner crashes seem to have been Afghani, let us be merciful: let us not replace their stone houses with drywall; let us not pave over their sheep grazing for City Markets nor their souks for Barnes and Noble; let us not beat their ouds into synthesizers nor otherwise bless them with our building codes or many fearful aspects of our Great Society; let us not addict them to plastic nor teach them to fear the seconds whizzing by on the digital clock; let us spare them the agony of Seinfeld, and Travolta, yea, and Britney, Limbaugh, and Hard Copy — if it’s not too late.

Second, thanks to John Doe who had the wisdom to blame it all on a pound of peas. My first pea crop froze, John, but at least having read your letter, I know it wasn’t on account of Y2K having zapped us all back to 1899 AD when we had to fight all those Filipino terrorists. History repeats even while science advances. Too bad all the anti-war wit of Mark Twain during the Spanish-American conflict didn’t take better root. Readers who want to see me hanged had better hang him first; he’s got a wider audience.

But life is good; I can still go to the dump in a poor county and come back with more than I took in. Imagine someone spending hundreds on a 50-gallon water-heater and finding out a couple of years later it was only fit for the scrap heap? No doubt if we teach our inferiors in the third world all about planned obsolescence, they’ll put away their knives and get down to business. Since my water is mostly powered by gravity I can use a nice solid steel tank.

Of course, I wouldn’t encourage most folks to be like me: why, if every cowboy used that spirit of self-reliance to the max and shined up those old spark-plugs for another go-round, the economy would crumble and the army wouldn’t have any more reason to prop up those banana-republics where the miners make a nickel a day!

Speaking of cowboys I read where old bud George on page 2 was proposing a radical-center cowboy. If that’s a genetic cross between Baxter Black, Ed Abbey, and Karl Marx, I’m all in favor. Having grown up in a low-income apartment block, 12 stories high and 7 screaming families to the floor, I can’t say I know much about land management. Just last week I was buck-naked in the hot pool with some nice old rancher from Archuleta county and he was saying how he missed the good old days when a fella knew who owned what for a hundred miles and whose abuelito was making moonshine tequila in whose woodshed.

I didn’t quite know how to explain that while he was riding back from the rail-head with the cash in his pack-saddle, I was growing up downwind of the slaughterhouse on the other end of those same tracks, and did he ever suspect what sort of beast he was feeding all those years?

Aside from all that, I just hope those cowboys and ranchers whom I admire and respect, can make whatever adjustments they need to keep the land bumpy and unpaved. Maybe if they didn’t have to replace those appliances so often they wouldn’t have to squeeze the land quite so hard to pay off the debt. Maybe when the great judgment comes we’ll give all our presidents and bankers tool boxes and sentence them to resurrecting washing machines in some remote county dump.

Slim Wolfe

Villa Grove