Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Some Folks You Never Forget

Unrelated to just about everything, but on my mind this morning?

A man I met only once, only for one day, whose name I can't recall.  Yet he made a huge impression.

Hubby and I were roadtripping, and had decided to spend a night at Old Frisco near Milford, Utah. That would be Old Frisco of the wrenching child graves.

Still trying to figure out this headstone, which broke my heart all those years ago.  I know the poem by heart, and I know the last name is "Staples."  But I have no idea the first name.  It ended with a "y"-perhaps Johnny or Tommy.

Anyway, we had already been on the road for a week or so, and had gathered an astounding number of rocks (we fancied ourselves rockhounds).  We had planned on camping in a particular spot near the kilns, but this gentleman, his brother-in-law (if I'm remembering correctly), and his young nephew had pitched camp while we were off exploring.  We stopped in long enough to warn them of rattlesnakes we'd encountered a shirt distance away, then turned to find a new campsite.  This gentleman gave a yell that we should share the site--safety in numbers, and good to have company.

See the crumbling ones?  Those weren't crumbling when we were there.  That's the result of people climbing on them like idiots so they can get the "good" shots.  That's why there's a fence now.  Stupid people.

They didn't just share their camp, they shared their food and coffee.  I remember the coffee--they had a giant percolating pot that they put right in the center of the fire, then used farrier tongs to pull back out when it started percolating.  Dinner was rice and beans, and the coffee was most excellent.

This gentleman was, as luck would have it, a geologist.  He held a number of mineral claims in the area, plus a jade mine up in . . . Wyoming?  He merrily waded through our rocks, letting us know if our IDs had been correct (and, mostly, they were).  He gave us mineral sample bags for our yellow labradorite, topaz, and other, smaller pieces.  He oohed and aahhed over our gigantic chunks of agate, and was all-around a terrific guy.  He was a bit mournful when we lit up--he had throat cancer, and had sworn to his wife he wouldn't smoke anymore. He did hint at maybe bumming one, and I gently suggested that maybe he didn't really want to do that.

He agreed.  He did have a nasty cigar, which he didn't inhale.  I can't imagine it was any good for him, but he didn't seem particularly optimistic about his prognosis, so perhaps it didn't matter so much at that point.

The next morning, we ponied up the eggs and bacon (though the brother-in-law cooked), and we shared a terrific breakfast.  No one made me feel too stupid about the middle-of-the-night screaming fest borne of a strange dream about a chubby, cheery-faced preacher (who was really a horrid demon) who was playing Pied Piper with the long-gone citizens of Old Frisco (I woke up screaming, which brought the geologist and his brother-in-law out of their tent with guns in hand).  It was a great breakfast, we talked more about rocks (he gave us great hints about where to look for what), and then we broke camp, never to meet again.

This was back in 1994.  Almost 20 years ago.  That young nephew would be in his thirties now.  And that kindly geologist (who was also a geology professor somewhere--Kansas, maybe)?  I hope he made it.  I hope he beat that thing and is still digging holes and loving the earth today.

Not sure why I wrote this down.  Because I've been thinking a lot about mortality and what it means to be remembered, I guess.

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