During a brief trip to the mountains of Colorado over the holidays, my family and I stopped at a large super store in Cortez. My wife immediately disappeared into its depths, looking for the essentials. When you live in a small town it is important to stock up on necessary items whenever you have the opportunity. I knew she would be a while, since we have many needs, and it is Laurie's desire to keep our family neat, clean and well organized. It takes a number of cleansers, detergents and scouring compounds to do the job, along with a great deal of determination and elbow grease. The kids and I stood looking at each other until my daughters, Alyssa and McKale, bolted off on their own mission. Spenser and I were left alone. Grinning at each other, we slipped off to the music and electronics department. Spenser loves to browse the computer games, and I love music. If we were to suffer through "shopping," this was our destination of choice.
While perusing the CDs, I happened to look up and see a good friend. He too was in need of a "necessary item," and was forced into the store. It is always good to see Jim. He is a quiet, thoughtful, well spoken man, with much knowledge of the ways of the local cultures and a genuine love for the Native people and their art. I introduced Spenser, whom Jim had not previously met. Spenser later mentioned how pleasant Mr. C was, and that he liked the man's Irish accent and the way he smelled of sweet pipe tobacco. We spoke of common interests, and Jim mentioned how much he enjoyed our weekly e-mailer, he also wondered how we "kept up the pace". Well he is about to find out, since he has provided this week's inspiration.
Jim said that it was interesting to him how differently people viewed and interpreted similar occurrences. (Humph! I wonder what he meant by that?). He also said that some of the stories reminded him of his childhood in Ireland, and how he would slip off into the nearby wood in the evenings. He said he would lie on his back, look up at the stars and wonder if he or they were moving, contemplate their secrets and just wonder at their beauty. He felt it was a magical time; one of the many that brought him to an interest in differing beliefs about creation. Although short and hurried, our meeting was enjoyable for my son and me. Jim's words stuck in my mind.
Continuing our journey homeward, we traveled through the snow covered bean fields of Dove Creek, listening to the new Kenny G CD and the soft bickering of our three children in the rear of the van. Near the Utah/Colorado border I once again noticed an old windmill that sets high on a hill; positioned to catch the maximum amount of wind. It has been a landmark for as long as I have traveled this particular stretch of road. It is a friendly structure, with much character. Laurie and I remarked at how tired the old structure looked. Its frame sagged a bit, and pieces of metal were missing. The steel blades, meant to spin in the wind and pump the life giving water, leaned forward, sadly frozen in time. Our old metal friend looked somewhat like a drooping sunflower in the fall of the year; tired and spent.
The windmill reminded me of my paternal grandfather, Woodrow Wilson Simpson. In my memory, he too stooped and sagged a little. My father is beginning to show similar signs of age, as I am sure I will one day. But until that time the battle continues. I thought of how my family has had such an inseparable connection to the Southwest, to Bluff and to the local people. As children we, like Jim, looked up at the star filled sky and wondered. In the "old days" our parents would load Craig, Steve and me into the back of an old, faded blue Dodge pickup and haul us all over the Four Corners. Our two sisters would, of course, ride up front with our parents. Warm and comfortable in the cab of the truck, they would peer back at us and make faces, but I think we had the better deal. Returning home late at night, my two brothers and I had the opportunity to peer up at the stars and ponder what our Navajo neighbors had shared with us. As we would drop into Bluff, descending through Cow Canyon, the darkened red rock cliffs would sprout up on either side of the truck framing the high vaulted ceiling and incredible brightness of each pinpoint of light.
Our meeting with Jim, and seeing that old windmill, brought back memories of my own childhood. Growing up in Bluff has provided me wonderful memories and an appreciation for the simple things in life; my wife and children, our immediate and extended families and friends. The trading post has provided me the opportunity to be near all of this and live in an area where every hill unfolds an interesting site or a new friend. I suspect that in future years you will find me right here, bent, sagging, missing a few parts, and lying on my back looking up at and contemplating the stars.
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