If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you know that while I am sort of hit and miss, there is one thing I do fairly consistently and that is flood you with daily blog posts every November. I used to call it NaBloPoBlahBlahBlah. From what I can tell, BlogHer has hijacked NaBloPoMo and, for some reason, like the FlyLady and e-Bay, has banished me (read, made it impossible for me to register/login). Since I’ve been relegated to rogue status, I’m going to start a bit early to get warmed up. Also, this year, I’ve decided to at least attempt a theme. I’d like to use November to turn some memories and stories into words before I forget. Disclaimer: Like those of my dear grandmother, some of my memories may or may not be true or entirely accurate. But they are real to me.
This is a photo of the upper part of my Grandpa’s ranch. To be more accurate, it is my Grandpa and Grandma Rex’s ranch. Or it was. The part from which most of my childhood memories come has been sold. But the sagebrush is the same pale green/grey and the sky the same clear blue, almost as deep as my grandfather’s eyes when he looked straight up into yours on the rare occasion when he spoke to you, and the dirt. Well, know you know from whence comes my love for red dirt.
I wish I had a picture of my Grandpa. But think of an old (so therefore now), nearly silent Harrison Ford, wearing a plaid polyester cotton western shirt, a broken-in offbrand pair of work jeans, worn and dusty cowboy boots, which he could rightfully wear, and a straw Stetson.
In my mind Grandpa’s truck was the color of ranch road dust. But it must have been tan or yellowish or maybe not. I just remember the red-dirt dust. I remember the first time Grandpa told me to drive it back up to the ranch house to get something or other. I have no idea how old I was. Only that I had never driven a car or a truck before. That my little sister was with me. And that neither one of us could hardly reach the clutch with our feet and see out the dusty front window with our eyes at the same time. I can’t tell you how many times we killed it. Or how we possibly got it from wherever we were back to the ranch house. Maybe we didn’t. I just know that even now, at 50 years old, I can still feel that stone cold panic one feels when someone one doesn’t dare disappoint requires the unknown and impossible.
Another memory that comes to mind when I think of Grandpa’s truck is of riding in the back of the truck. This was, of course, back in the day when riding in the back of a pickup truck was just as accepted as riding in the front without a seatbelt. In other words, we did it all the time.
I have no idea how old I was. When on the ranch, we were as ageless as the ranch was timeless. But I remember being in the back of Grandpa’s truck with at least two of my siblings. I was sitting on the passenger-side edge of the truckbed. As one did, even though common sense dictates that sitting on the top edge of a truckbed while bouncing down an unpaved, wheel-rutted old ranch road is well, either stupid or crazy or a little of both.
Grandpa went around a turn and one of the rusty old 55-gallon drums that for some unknown reason were also in the back of Grandpa’s truck came rolling straight at me. So, clearly valuing limb over life, I lifted both my legs straight up and let the barrel run right under them. Harmlessly, or so I thought. Until the barrel stopped and the rest of me preceded the trajectory of my legs and flipped right over the side of Grandpa’s truck.
Of course Grandpa wasn’t driving very fast (driving fast on a ranch road is darn near impossible, but that’s not to say there are some, mainly the young, who haven’t tried it). He must have watched me go right over, because he stopped the truck. I’m pretty sure I hit my head on the cold hard ground. Because I don’t remember anything from the moment I started to fall back–like a trust fall only with no one there to trust–and the moment I remember waking up and looking a long way up into my Grandpa’s face.
Now how my head likes to the tell the story, there was a rattlesnake right near where I fell and my grandpa killed it with his two bare hands so as to save my life. My grown-up self now (only just now, in the past couple of years) questions my ageless child-self about these details. In fact, the entire memory reeks of an asynchronous Louis L’Amour novel/Hallmark movie mashup. Or something.
But that’s what the little girl in me remembers when she thinks about red-dirt dusted pick-ups, old metal drums, red-ranch dirt, pale green-grey sagebrush, bumps on the head, or the warning rattle of a western rattlesnake.