If she wants to
shear a bunch of dead sheep, she is welcome.
take it so hard."
I don't want to
talk. I go outside to the truck and drive down the mountain. Too late. Too late
to sell out, too late to pioneer again. Too late for another private farmstead
in another country. Too damned many people, too damned many dogs, too damned
many years kinking my joints.
Too damned many
people. The rural community wiped out. The rugged and often demented old-timers
simply overwhelmed by numbers.
The taxes double
and redouble, yet the land is re-zoned so I can't give it to my children, can't
build rentals, can't build any structure in the touring mob's
My rough dirt
road switchbacks down the mountainside into the valley.
Such a grand dewy
day, all blue and green. The sheep fitted so perfectly within their
environment, nibbling across the verdant pastures, all such a grand harmony.
Damn, damn. It wasn't too much to ask, was it?
Near the bottom I
pass through my old redwood gateposts with the weathered, carved sign overhead:
APPLE PIE RANCH. Forty years ago, that name was a dream. Now it is my
I turn into a
blacktopped driveway marked with an aluminum letter sign: DARVEY. Big old oaks
along the driveway offer some privacy, but the house is young. They put only
one nail in each end of the studs; the sheetrock is the thinnest, and the
concrete short. I watched the contractor from L.A. throw the house together,
saw him pull the reinforcing steel out of the foundation forms just after the
building inspector left.
A big white
poodle barks as I park the truck. He is cutely clipped with pompons around his
ankles and another crowning his blocky head. The poodle stands on his hind legs
and scratches at the truck door as I push my way out. Get down, you s.o.b., I
say, and he pulls back, knowing he is guilty and I should kill him.