LIFE IN THE REAL DESERT: WESTERNS AND OLD MOVIES

The best affectionate analysis of this genre I have ever read … and I’ve read a lot of them. Beautifully written. If you love Westerns, you’ll love this. Promise!!

Mikes Film Talk

Town sign outside of Burger King
My life in the real desert thus far has consisted of much more than personal injury and the shock of having no television. It includes the reading of old western favorites and movies that remain in the collection. Split into blu-ray, NTSC, Region 0 and Pal, the DVDs are spread out between RV and 5th wheel. In terms of stimulation, the tales by Louis L’Amour are hard to beat. Each story a sort of male romance novel built around rugged and hard men who must either fight, solve a mystery or puzzle, or defeat a villain who has designs on the girl of the protagonist’s dreams.

It took me awhile to figure out that these adventure stories of the old west were, in fact, the male answer to Harlequin Romance. These gunfighters, gamblers, cowboys, miners, lawmen, soldiers and so on are all just men searching for something. In the books…

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THE FIRST SUNNY SUNDAY – GARRY ARMSTRONG

It is spring. The calendar is unequivocal.

Spring has officially been here for nearly three weeks. Sure enough, if you look carefully, you can see the signs. Crocuses in the garden. Fat buds on trees and vines.

Our back garden is full of day lily shoots. They have a lot of growing to do before they bloom — a month or more — but they’re coming up thick and fast. It’s going to be a bonanza year for day lilies. I hope their enthusiasm is contagious.

This past weekend, the temperatures soared. The sun came out and stayed out.

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And we emerged.  Winter-pale, wearing crumpled shorts and tee shirts pulled from the bottom of drawers in which they have lain since last October. Squinting in the strong sunlight. Winter is finally over. We won!

Hauling cameras and fishing poles, kayaks and canoes. Picnic baskets. Umbrellas and lawn blankets. With small frisky dogs in tow.

It was the first sunny Sunday after the worst-ever winter.

No leaves yet on the trees. Nor were any flowers — wild or cultivated — to be seen. There is a world of hope for more sunny days and weeks stretching ahead. It’s the beginning. Never have we deserved it more.

IF THAT MOCKINGBIRD DON’T SING

When we lived in Boston, a mockingbird used to sit on the rail of our stoop and shout imprecations at the two dogs and the cat, Big Guy. It made them crazy. They wanted that bird so bad.

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One fateful day, I was walking the dogs. Mockingbird was perched on the wire over our head, yelling at us. Then he flew down to the garden, perhaps to refuel with a seed or two. Divot, the Norwich Terrier, lunged into the garden (it was one of those stretchy leads). There was a flutter, another flutter, a chomp, chomp.

Divot emerged from the garden, the mockingbird in her smiling jaws. She passed the bird to her partner, Pagan, the big hairy hound (PBGV or Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen) as if they had been practicing for years.

Together, like the thoroughbreds they were, they trotted homeward where Big Guy was clinging to the screen door, apparently aware of all the events that had transpired. Meanwhile, I was trying to wrench the bird from Pagan’s jaws before we went into the house where Big Guy was waiting to get his jaws around the prize.

Garry Kaity Divot RiverBend

Here ye oh Mockingbirds! This is a cautionary tale for mouthy birds. Don’t taunt the dogs. Or the cats. They may be smarter than you think.