Rendered Fat Content


" … evenings would have turned to frost and the sky would have become that most remarkable blue."

Want follows excess. The Muse and I climb up and over White Pass, a low route through the mighty Cascades, moving through late summer fields showing the tail end of seasonal excess. Vine maple and alder hold the passage of July's brutal heat in their desiccating foliage. Wheat harvested, stubble fields stand like old men with their pale bellies showing beneath too-tight tee shirts. We drive beneath cool covering cloud until we reach the pinnacle, where the sky opens wider than a clown's mouth in a dentist's chair. High dry hills watch us pass, heading home(s), through our home country one last time, a short stop where our hearts live before heading on to our most current temporary mailing address.

Excess follows want. Our decade of exile taught us more than we ever wanted to learn, thank heavens.
We were blessed with near devastation followed by another re-creation. We're taking the long way home, deciding this one time to not even try to shave off road miles to make time, for we might finally find ourselves beyond the ability to make time, for time, too, only comes unbidden. It grows its beard without once ever visiting any barber to shape the damned thing, becoming an old man, going to seed, they say.

This latest epic adventure started receding yesterday as we fell back from the last formally-planned stop to start down the long road back, knowing full well that we would not really be returning. Gone for the best part of a month, only the dregs will greet us. A garden devastated by hail in our absence. A house probably better for our long leave. That one side of the place still impatiently waiting for that too-long-neglected coat of paint. Emily The Housesitter will have taken better care of the plants than even The Muse would have done, distracted as she's lately been, reinventing herself. She's switching out the work that sustained us over the last decade to assume a role better suited to her temperament. She's a tough bird, but not too tough. She says that she can survive almost anything, and I believe her, but no life was ever simply about survival. Revival times come, too, when ReSeeding dominates the activities of daily living, not so much to pay back, but perhaps to finally notice that with the harvest finally in, we might seriously consider finally paying something forward.

I swear that I sometimes move backward through time. This trip, I revisited the scene of several of my past crimes and misdemeanors, each committed in rather blinded innocence. Father Time forgive me, for I knew not what in the fuck I was doing much of the time. The last time I drove over White Pass, it was late at night in late November, and I was driving an underpowered old Volkswagen with wipers capable of only moving too slowly to keep up with even a drizzle. Retracing that road yesterday in late August sun, I just had to wonder how I survived. The great mystery was never that we were originally alive, but that we somehow survived the twists and unforeseen turns through the driving rains and blinding fogs. I've learned nothing beyond how fortunate I am. Still, I am not the man I once imagined myself to be. I never was.

The Yakima Valley, once so burned and barren, bares nothing but excess as trucks carrying empty apple containers groan up long uphills toward seemingly endless orchards. Each piece of fruit bearing the seeds of a following generation, most will never take root anywhere. We clone our trees now, propagating through cutting and magic, cleverness and skill. We seem to clone our futures, too, most seeds falling on pavement or barren soil. We mostly toil in our heads, hands ungnarled by anything they engaged in. Farmers complain that they cannot find anyone willing to actually toil now, machinery having long-ago swapped out most sweat work for the kind one only ever does while sitting down. Still, every damned piece of fruit wants a willing hand to harvest it.

In my youth, the last day of August would find a thousand seasonal wheat workers pulling up stakes. The whore houses on West Main would be open overtime and the bars below, overflowing with excess good cheer. Gone for another year, the long, searing afternoons punctuated with hand-rolled Prince Albert smokes ashed into sweat-stained straw hats while sitting in the small available shade with some fella from Arkansas named Slim. We were better than best friends for the season. He was stoved up from a youth misspent riding rodeo but he could still double clutch that old Studebaker better than anyone else on the crew. Adieu. The apple pickers moved in where we so recently thrived, bringing their families with their babies along for their ride. By the time they completed their turn on this land, evenings would have turned to frost and the sky would have become that most remarkable blue.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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