Five o’ clock a.m. comes early and us boys head to the McDonalds at Lomas and Juan Tabo in Albuquerque most every morning of the week. Some of us read the newspaper, others do crosswords, some eat, most drink coffee, most tell jokes that are occasionally funny, and I catch up on travel posts.
Art and Robert are looking up the age of Martina Navratilova for a newspaper brain challenge while John waits for an answer to his latest question. J,B, buys coffee and Claudia serves up another morning like the last. Mario and Sid will come in around six thirty.
Having coffee every morning, at the same time and place, with the same people, gives me the feeling that the world is stable.
Claudia gets paid to be here, and, bless her heart, she puts up with us.
One main goal, this early, is ” to do no harm. ”
By tonight we more than likely won’t know much more than we think we already know.
If we could find cheaper coffee and a place closer to our homes, we would probably go there.
At a certain age, compromise is what you settle with.
Most people call these ” clouds ” and stop.
A few go further and describe them as ” beautiful clouds,” or, if a scientist, ” atmospheric conflagrations. ”
My aunt called them ” buttermilk ” clouds when she was hunched in a bird blind shooting photographs of eagles nesting in the top branches of cottonwood trees on her ranch.
Tonight, these graceful puffs of smoke move languidly through the the sky, just before a sunset that turns the heavens reddish yellow.
These cloud fingers are delicate as a concert pianists hands and look like Octopus tentacles reaching for prey near a coral reef.
No matter how you describe this natural phenomenon, the safest posture is to bow your head and appreciate your good fortune for a world you didn’t make but get to live in.
The creek is in better shape today than fifty years ago.
Then, creek banks were crowded with brush. Now, you can stand on the bank and easily cast your tackle. There are still cat tails in the creek but they are controlled by a local wildlife biologist for a monthly stipend.
Fifty years ago there were perch in the water, small fish that strike impulsively, put up a fight, and have lots of bones to work around at the dinner table. We ate them fried in a blanket of corn meal along with cornbread, black eyed peas and Texas toast fixed by Grandma. In the creek, we kids waded in undershorts seining for minnows to use as bait. For city kids, the creek and the ranch were a place to look forward to visiting when school shut down for the summer.
The water today is dark, opaque, ten foot deep in the middle. It’s surface is a mirror reflecting trees on the other side of the bank. Like so much of nature, you can feel a lot more beneath the surface than you can see.
Growing up, I had no idea I would be fishing the creek when I got old.
Even the future can’t swim away from the past.
River Falls has a make believe golf course in a cow pasture not far from the Texas Palo Duro Canyon.
This area has been transformed from grazing to ranchettes. With an airport, five acre lots, utilities and roads, the development attracts people with money who want to get away from big city life. Plenty of city folks make huge money in urban jungles but like their leisure with their horses in wild open spaces.
The River Falls Country Club has a small unattended clubhouse, a short nine holes with raised indoor outdoor carpet greens, bumpy fairways of prairie grass, no traps or trees, a steady West Texas wind.
Alan and I watch out for prairie dog holes and rattlesnakes and navigate the course somewhere north of par. If you hit short of the green your ball bounces back towards you. If you hit the green your ball bounces off the green and you have a tough chip coming back.
Those old Scottish guys, who invented the game, played on courses like this in weather like this. It isn’t hard to see them savoring scotch whiskey after a round with the elements.
When I think of the equipment they used and the scores they achieved, I am glad they aren’t playing today.
We wouldn’t have a fighting chance, on the course, or at the bar.
In the 1950’s, Patsy Cline was the premier country western singer.
Her lyrics mirrored those of today; broken relationships, falling in and out of love, working for a living, heartaches and headaches. She was talked up in the tabloids, wore clothes as far removed from the range as a cowgirl could get, sang classic songs that still pop like champagne bubbles.
” Smokey “, Alan’s cookie jar horse, passes his time on the range listening to Patsy on headphones in Texas.
When cowboys get hungry in the bunkhouse they separate Smokey’s head from his neck, reach for a peanut butter cookie,then carefully re-attach the head and neck in one sure handed gun slinging motion.
Patsy’s best song is ” Crazy.”
” Crazy ” brings back memories of me and the construction guys gang sitting in an east side Albuquerque Waffle House, feeding quarters into a juke box, playing Elvis Presley and Rolling Stones hits while waitresses crooned out waffle and scrambled egg orders in raspy voices.
” Crazy” should be our new American National Anthem.
We don’t have trouble being crazy and Patsy sounds more prescient every time I listen to her.
Home bases take different looks.
They can be hotel rooms, bungalows, RV’s, tents, apartments, houses, townhouses.They can be overlooking the Atlantic in Uruguay, lost in the Andes, on Caribbean shores with palms and yachts, standing on stilts in a Louisiana bayou.
Scott’s newest home base is a townhouse in Albuquerque, the ” breaking bad” city with the numbers 305.
In view of the Sandia Mountains, landscaping is low maintenance. The two car garage has room for storage. There is an extra bedroom and bath for guests. Covenants prohibit inoperable cars parked at the curb, red front doors, loud parties, Pets are allowed and H.O.A. fees are a couple hundred a year. There is no clubhouse, golf course, swimming pool, or security gate. A sign ,entering the development ,calls it a Covenant Controlled Community.
There is nothing eternal about a home base. Plains Indians used to drag their homes behind them to the next camp, following herds of buffalo so thick you could walk on their backs.
Living out of a suitcase, as liberating as it seems, is never as free as it appears.Our family home has been rehabbed and sold, Scott has stopped rooming with friends, and I now have found a comfortable place to hang my hat, just inside the front door,on a peg, by a sunny window.
Now, I hang the key to my drawbridge by my coffee maker on the kitchen counter.
My modest castle has all the room I need, safe and sound, quiet and convenient.
Why I’m getting ready for another trip, though,is a question I don’t have room to answer in just one post.
In the 1960’s, a most favored slogan was ” Make Love, Not War. ”
Their were lots of babies conceived in hippie vans as the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane fanned anti war sentiment, wore flowers in their hair and had meetings with Indian gurus. Flower children blew bubbles in parks and gave roses to hardened cops wearing helmets and sunglasses.
It wasn’t hard to be against a war that sent home young men in caskets.Communism wasn’t likely to swim across the ocean and take over our cities but Washington D.C. wasn’t taking any chances. North Vietnam was trying to consume South Vietnam and the American military machine was going to plug the hole in their border.
50,000 American dead later, the war ended with a whimper.
The 1960’s have returned without tie die T shirts, beards and hippie glasses. At the Punkin Chunkin Festival we have cowboy boots, pickups with tow hitches,levis and Copenhagen snuff secured in back pockets.
Shooting pumpkins is about as peaceful as it gets.
” Make love, not babies, ” is our newest generational slogan.
I guess some have finally found a war they think they can win.
Not loving babies is a hard pill to swallow.
Bennett’s Amusements moves in the day before an event, fences off their area at the Festival, back up huge equipment trucks, rides, and promotions. Agile carnies pick up wrenches and assemble a superstructure of steel connected by hundreds of feet of electric cables to a main generator run by diesel gas. Plain ole country dirt turns into an amusement venue.
In this circus there aren’t any animals or strongmen, no bearded ladies or human freaks. These are all protected species now, and midway visitors in 2017 are mostly interested in rides created by country bumpkins with time on their hands and a love for machinery.
Bennett’s, a small time outfit, moves across country, handling amusements in fields, shopping center parking lots and county fairgrounds.The king of the circus, Ringling Brothers, shut down last year and all that is left of the industry is ma and pa operations like this one.
Kids, these days, don’t run away to join the circus. Many just want to sing rap, get interviewed on television, and drive a nice muscle car..
I don’t know what is coming to replace Bennett amusements but it is not likely going to be something I like.
What people do to amuse themselves tells you who they are.
McDonalds was one of the first corporate giants to infiltrate American communities with cheap hamburgers, fast food, employee training programs, marketing strategies, toys for the kids, drive up windows, extended operating hours. You can dine in any corporate or franchise store and get sameness.
McDonalds leapfrogged across the United States leaving stores wherever its arches touched ground. Their business formula is so profitable the company has planted its logo worldwide and a generation of kids choose Egg Mc’muffins over frosted flakes.
Now Mickey’s has a new employee – the Big Mac Kiosk.
Machines make great employees. They aren’t late, don’t do drugs, don’t have fights with their spouse, don’t steal, don’t need a health care plan.
How does a society survive when its people are replaced by computers?
The Big Mac Kiosk shows the State of the Union better than a President’s speech.
Los Altos Golf Course was built in the 1960’s, at Eubank and Lomas.
Owned and operated by the City of Albuquerque, this public links course is open to all. In an age of dwindling play, escalating water costs, cries of environmental ruination., golfers still suit up in golf caps, spikes, and golf shirts with “Just Do It ” stitched above their shirt pockets.
The driving range,south of the clubhouse, is wide open this morning.
A rainbow makes a gentle arc across the sky, the same arc as a well struck five iron from an uphill lie into a well trapped green.
Rainbows and golf are always welcome on Scotttreks.
Both are about physics and spiirits.