Friday, July 19, 2013

Communications and Characters

A couple came into the trading post last Saturday, and together we spent some enjoyable time communicating. I say communicating, because they spoke poor English, and my French is, well . . . nonexistent. How we aquatinted ourselves, without the spoken word, is highly advanced for an old coot like me. When they arrived, I recognized they were a gregarious duo, but because of their troublesome elocution of my native tongue and the brisk pace in which they approached it, I had no idea what they were saying. It was the woman who first noticed my quizzical look and let her man in on our lackluster interaction. He stopped speaking for a moment, had an epiphany, reached into his satchel and pulled-out an iPad.

In no time at all the couple and I were effectively interfacing. Because we offer free Wi-Fi, the Frenchman was quickly able to pull-up a world map and zero me in on Guadeloupe Island, West Indies. I saw their home, her boat, his business and their kids who were staying with his parents in Paris. They were on a second honeymoon. Yup, you guessed it! They shared digital images of their wedding, first honeymoon in Kenya, and updated me on their trip thus far. It did not take long for Francois and Margarete to provide an uploaded version of their entire lives. In 20 minutes I knew more about those people than their next-door neighbors. By the time they left I was wishing for an iPad of my own so I could share my life and family with them as well.

As we said adieu and my new friends exited the building, a hip looking character of about 40 dressed in a faded camp shirt, cargo shorts and flip flops entered the store. He was well tanned and wore a mop of curly blond, sun bleached hair. As the sun worshipper began walking around the post, I noticed he had a notebook under his arm. "I wonder?” I thought to myself. I struck-up a conversation with him, and before long he was showing me images of his home on the big Island, his girlfriend on the beach, underwater shots of tropical fish and travel shots of his most recent trip. By the time he departed I felt I knew him well. I even garnered an invitation to visit him at his beachfront home.

The next guy to come in was absent the notebook, but he was an interesting character. Without images, this 65 to 70 year old guy painted a picture of rock art portraying alien visitation, life forms and space ships. His lecture left me with no doubt he believed we have been visited by beings from the outer limits. This white haired man, dressed in khakis, a blue t-shirt and hiking boots, asked if I was a religious man. Suspecting a trap, and wondering where his thought process might be leading me, I hesitated to answer. Without waiting for my reply he continued, "God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, right?" "Genesis?" I said. "Yes", said the thoughtful man, " but where was he standing when he created it?" I raised my eyebrow in a questioning manner and waited for enlightenment.

By the end of our discussion I knew his answer to the question and many more unsolved mysteries. His imagination and detailed descriptions overcame any technological disadvantages he suffered in comparison to my other guests. Because of his excellent communication skills, and since I just finished reading The Host, by Stephenie Meyer, I am now suspicious that there are, indeed, aliens among us. If nothing else, I am certain we get a goodly number of characters walking through those Kokopelli doors and the communication goes on.

With Warm Regards,
Barry, Steve, Priscilla and Danny; the Team.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ol' Buther

It has been hot, painfully hot, in Bluff this week. In spite of the 108-degree temperature reading, however, Buffy the Wonder Dog is at her station in front of Twin Rocks Trading Post.

For the past nine years Buffy has maintained a steady vigil on the cement porch, greeting customers and overseeing day-to-day operations, rain or shine. With equal enthusiasm, Buffy welcomes artists selling their work and the tourists, travelers and collectors looking to acquire Navajo baskets, turquoise jewelry and Navajo rugs. She does not care whether the guest is red, yellow, black or white, young or old, tall or small, rich or poor, republican or democrat. To her it is all the same, if the visitor loves her, she loves them back. Few are immune to her outreach, and many have traveled miles out of their way to give Buffy a scratch and a kind word.

As I walked back to the trading post after a discussion with the manager of Twin Rocks Cafe about daily specials, I noticed Buffy panting at her post. She was obviously affected by the heat, but held steady. Reaching down to give her a bit of moral support and assure her the monsoons would soon be arriving, I heard the voice of my paternal grandfather, Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Simpson floating in from the parking lot. Although he has been gone over 25 years, his words were as clear as if he was standing just a few feet away. He was singing a song about his favorite canine, Buther. “Old Buther, that’s my good ol’ dog,” he sang. Woody was good at a great many things, but song writing was not one of them.

At the trading post people often ask how Barry and I came to live in Bluff. The answer lies in Woody, a Marine who had seen too much during WWII and wanted a place far from the excitement of the larger and busier communities to raise his four children. Bluff in the ‘40s fit the bill.

Woody enjoyed living in Bluff and loved dogs. I often marveled at how comfortable he was in this community, and how he talked, sang and listened to his pets as if they were human. It was not until I returned to Bluff after being away several years and Buffy came to live at the trading post that I understood his connection to the town and why his pets were so important. The dogs comforted and soothed this man who had experienced death and destruction on a massive scale, and Bluff, with its embracing, sheltering cliffs protected him from the outside world. That was a winning combination. As I talked with Buffy as though she could understand my words, I realized there must be a lot of Woody in me.

With Warm Regards;
Steve, Barry, Priscilla and Danny; the team.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cash Crop

Early Thursday morning I arrived at Twin Rocks Trading Post to discover my nephew Grange on his hands and knees picking weeds in front of the building. Greeting him as I walked-up the front steps, I said, "Hey Grange, what the heck?" He tersely replied, "What the heck does it look like?" "Hey now", I shot back, "don't be nasty to me pal. It is far too glorious a morning to start out on the wrong foot." "Sorry Uncle Barry," he said, "I am just frustrated because my dad has me pulling weeds. I hate weeds!" "Misguided", I said to myself as I entered the side door and strolled into our place of business. Switching on the lights, I noticed a note on the counter. It read, "Barry, Grange will be working at the trading post today. He is there to help. Have him pick weeds in front of the store. Steve"

Going about the place, I fired-up the computers and lights in the back rooms and unbarred the Kokopelli doors, propping them open so I could enjoy the morning. It really was a fabulous day. The rocky alcove embracing the trading post and cafe was still subdued by shadow. There was a slight breeze moving the air, which made it feel cool and refreshing. Just across the road to the southeast, the sun peeked around the rocky abutment and lit-up the day. The cottonwood trees, out buildings and rusted farm implements on the edge of the Gaines property stood exposed by the revealing rays. Sunlight also fell upon portions of the bluffs across the valley, creating a scenic study of shadow and light. The heat of the day was not yet upon us, but it promised to come soon. At the edge of the porch, near the sandstone boulders placed there as impact barriers, Grange worked diligently.

My short-term intentions were to sit on the front steps and harangue my nephew, but my plan was interrupted by a call from the cafe. Over the intercom Toni notified me there were two artists waiting to sell us their wares. Grange would have to wait for my intervention. It did not take long to finish my business at the gift shop. Toni already had the beadwork and carved dolls picked out before I arrived, so I just had to approve the expense. When I returned to the trading post, Grange had moved away from the steps. I knew he was trying to avoid me, but I would have none of it. I caught-up with him, leaned against a porch post and listened while he grumbled at his task. "Ya know", I said showering wisdom down on my nephew's red head, "when your father, Uncle Craig and I were your age we looked upon weeds as a cash crop." "What, prey tell, is a cash crop?" asked Grange impatiently.

"A cash crop is", I explained, "the fat of the land, a gold mine or a windfall." "These weeds are not a gold mine," argued my nephew. I asked, "You are being paid to pull them, are you not?" "I better be!" he retorted. I laughed at Grange and tried to make clear to him that there would always be weeds, and a person could usually make a buck or two by helping people keep them at bay. I tried to explain that his father and I met people every day trying to discover a way to make a living or subsidize their income. Grange admitted that ever since he was a small boy he had seen a steady stream of artists and trades people selling or attempting to sell their product to us. "Indeed," I replied. "A lot of those people depend on us for, at least, a portion of their annual income, and we depend on them to supply our stores. "And your customers are the third leg to that three legged stool," Grange repeated by rote, “without any one of those supports we all fall down." "Good job boy," I said, "your father has taught you well.”

I reminded Grange his "cash crop" would supply him with plenty of spending money until he grew-up, became educated and found his way in life. Just then a small, dark cloud passed overhead, and a few meager raindrops fell upon Grange and his declining weed patch. Grange looked-up at the cloud and then at me, saying, "I suppose you have an analogy for those raindrops as well, don't you?" Just then we heard the telephone ring inside the trading post and a page from Toni saying the call was for me. "Those raindrops are pennies from Heaven my dear boy," I said turning on my heel and heading inside. "Those pennies will help sustain your cash crop and keep you in business for many years to come." "Great!” I heard Grange reply as I passed over the threshold and approached my own opportunity.

With Warm Regards
Barry, Steve, Priscilla and Danny; the team.