Suddenly a large water main gushed forth: “Sssssssssss!” Actually there was no water in this dry desert landscape. I looked next to the boulder in front of me and there in the shade, at the base of a rock, was a large snake, coiled and shaking it’s rattle-tail.

Part of me wanted to make a stand, and that’s the part I should have gone with. But no, after poking the snake with my walking stick, I ran like a scared rabbit, only much more clumsily than the rabbit would have run. I stumbled, did a front flip and landed on my backpack, which cushioned my fall with the large canvas tarp it contained. I didn’t see the snake coming after me, so I lay there a couple minutes. I still had the stick, which I had found along the trail somewhere, in my left hand. It had served me well for several hikes already. I hadn’t bumped my head. The only injuries I noticed were a sore right hip, and a sore joint on the last segment of my right ring finger. I staggered to my feet with the heavy pack. What was I thinking? I asked myself. Why did I get off the trail?

Three days ago, Jim and I performed for a Farmer’s market. I met the manager for the first time that day. We had arrived early so I was taking my time about setting up. Then I was informed, that instead of the three hours we had prepared, we only had one hour, and instead of starting in an hour and a half, we would be starting in 30 minutes. I felt stunned, and needed some face time with the Creator. There was nowhere to go, so I just turned my face away.

What would we do? Would we plan a different set list for the hour, or just use the first hour of the three-hour list Jim and I had mapped out together? I pulled out the list and looked at it. There was hardly time to do much remapping. I decided to make one change and coordinated that with Jim.

Later that evening I got a text that the board had decided to use another act for their fourth Sunday. I was stunned again. But working with someone who thinks nothing of jerking you around (the farmer’s market manager), is probably not something to fight for. If we had been informed in advance that it was to be an hour’s audition, we would have prepared differently. We could have perfected the 15 pieces we ended up playing (and singing). Instead, we had spent a lot of practice time pulling three hours of material together!

So I was bored yesterday and wanted to explore. Plus I thought if I just went straight downhill, instead of following the meandering trail, I would get to the bottom faster. Well I was wrong. Jim was flaked out on a sand barge when I got there. He gently scolded me for getting off the trail. Then he said, “There really isn’t anything I can say, because if you decide to do it again, you’ll do it again.” He knows me well.

The long uphill stretch was tortuous with my heavy pack. I took the tarp out and had to go back a ways later and retrieve it, plus Jim helped me carry it much of the way even though that meant he carried two of them. They are cotton canvas, 12’x8′. They each weigh about 15 pounds. I was tired of the way plastic tarps deteriorate on the tent garages and gazebo we have at our retreat, so I ordered cotton. We’ll still need to bring up more canvas.

It really was a good day. I now understand why I was not a success at the farmers market in Santa Isabel. I’m a little left of center, and the lyrics of some of my original songs reveal that. If we had stuck with country and pop tunes they probably would have loved it. We did too much ethnic and jazz for their taste. I’m revamping our repertoire list so we can pick out whatever genre we want to focus on for future gigs.

I seemed to have received angelic protection with my little mistakes yesterday. Sure could have been worse. In the morning I finished breakfast, gathered up the scraps, and put them in the middle of my compost pile. Then I had a load of manure to dump, so I lifted off the tree prunings I had placed on the top of the pile, dug a hole through the fruit peels, I had placed there earlier, with a garden trowel, dumped in the manure, raked the rinds back over the manure, and replaced the cover. Then a little later I remembered that there had been two burro bananas left when I was full from breakfast. Where were they? Did I throw them in the compost pile with the garbage? So I checked and there they were, fully intact, not a scratch on them. So I wiped them off with a corn husk and brought them on the hike.

My somersault on a rocky slope sure could have been a lot worse. I did get bit by a red ant on the back of my right knee, later on. It kind of hurts still the next morning. But no snake bite!

I remembered the person who had given me the phone number that I had started texting 6 months ago. He had been a friend of my late mother’s. After my mother’s dementia had deepened to the point that she could no longer enjoy going to dances with him, he had found another dance partner. He had wanted me to meet her daughter. It had been his hunch that we would get along well because we both are musicians, and we both live off-grid. My mother would have despised our current president. But I remember this man, in one of our many phone conversations, saying something to the effect that he approves of Trump’s anti-immigrant policy and rhetoric. I couldn’t believe it. How could my mom have dated a xenophobe?

The two ideals are really getting crystalized. You are either for unity and equality or you are for hierarchy. You either want peace and freedom for all honest people, or you want to be part of a racial elite that subjugates everyone else. You can no longer straddle the widening ditch. Please erase racism. Skin color doesn’t matter. Worship customs don’t matter. There is only one God! Please don’t be afraid of people who are different! Learn to see past their color, language, accent, dress, religious rituals, or gender identity, and recognize their level of honesty! Please don’t be afraid of losing material possessions! You are going to lose them all anyway when you pass from this world. Then, which side of the great divide you are standing on will be the thing that matters.

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