Thursday, April 20, 2006

Time for Geography Tales

You'd think that the Cavalry was coming down the valley, the way everything and everyone seems transfixed, motionless. There's little danger of any such event, for any number of reasons. In fact, since this hour yesterday, it would take a practiced eye to detect the nearly imperceptible changes in the lay of things. That's a constant fact, one that has lead to universal
practicing with ones eyes, at least in these parts.

I haven't been able to find out much about the history or geography of Creosotia, mainly, because everyone who's said anything about the place agrees that it's neither here nor there. Admittedly, but that doesn't leave many clues. As near as I can tell, it's somewhere along the western flank of some old mountain range, along the headwaters of the mighty Punytents river valley. I seem to recall that the Puny Tents didn't always go by that name. It started out as a trickle of lazy mud, and went downhill from there, creating a slow-moving ooze in it's wake. Travellers who, unaware or cocksure, found themselves stuck on one side or the other, were deemed," the Penitents". Some, thwarted in their journeys, settled here, only to find that the land didn't have much use for people or their notions of civilized culture. Of these poor bastards, only a few tried sticking it out, even though nothing - nothing - was working, which predictably led to a state of being "Penny Tense", or maybe it was a reference to the raggedy little homes into which they were eventually relegated, the so-called "Puny Tents".

Headwaters or not, the Punytents never amounted to much, as rivers go. The wind picks up in the springtime, and between periodic deluges, just blows dust and dirt back up the slope, where - you guessed it- the extremely short rainstorms turn it back into mud, and send it back down again. It's only been the last couple of decades that have made life simpler, in Creosotia. The blistering sun is a new thing (relatively), and the few creatures stuck here have learned to look, look a little harder, and then look some more, before moving any of the pieces on this bleak game board.

They had had many of the same problems which only seem amplified, now, in this same God-forsaken little wedge of Eden. The ocean's a few hundred miles back that way, too close by a few hundred miles, for a bunch of Impenitents, unless they figured a way to sprout gills. I've been looking pretty hard, but unless I missed something, everything that's left us to deal with, is now in front of us.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wish I'd Said That

Somewhere, under one of these mounds of alkali dust, there's probably a commemorative placque (adorned with the official imprimatur of this dump), worded something like:

“Para todo mal..mescal..para todo bien...también.” *

When it turns up, I'll be the first to ask, "Fine, but who's got any Mescal?" Until then, we all get to enjoy twice the hangover, with half the buzz, gratis the environment.

* The New Farm, “Review: Tequila: A Natural and Cultural History”

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

It's All About Location

Practically the first thoughts in a visitor's mind are, "We're not in [ fill in the blank] anymore", followed momentarily by, "How did we get here, and how do we get out?" As before, it's easy to file Creosotia County under the category of exurban legends, some place that a friend of a friend once mentioned within earshot of a cousin. There are a lot of hard truths to be digested here, which is probably the only reason that the cafe hasn't been closed down, after years of serving extreme cuisine, and the brackish mud that they've passed off as coffee. This is the county seat, and it's just as lively at noon of a Monday, as it is at midnight on a Sunday.

As hard as it is to believe, nobody seems to much mind the lack of visitor amenities, interesting sights, or any kind of souvenirs. There's something about this place that just takes up every part of the pig except the whistle- folks who arrive here seem to have too much on their minds already to fret about missing Jackalope ranches, or whatever used to intrigue them. Nobody who lives here is likely to go bragging to the world about it, and nobody anywhere else has any designs on the area, so there's a kind of grim equilibrium that keeps things much as they are. I'd say that it's serene, but that's painting an unfair picture. The climate's no good for painting anyway, but I think the Bedouins figured that out, centuries ago, somewhere else.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Waiting for the Tumbleweeds

Well. It's just as it was advertised, here. The climate pretty well governs what goes on, and from the looks of things, that rules out outdoor activities, at least, while the Sun's up. It will take a bit of landscaping (and then some), before this place is habitable by any abstract constructions, let alone people.

Look around. Whichever way we turn, we are dared to act intemperately or wastefully.