I keep waking up to bad news. This morning it was a double-whammy, the market down another 400 points and worse, word that Grizzly Adams has died. His real name was Dan Haggerty, of course, but I didn’t know Dan Haggerty. I knew Grizzly Adams. The show had a short run, only two seasons, but it carried an outsized influence on those of us who were sympathetic to Grizzly’s cause–he was wrongly accused of murder, you might recall–and wanted to jump through our television screens to live in the woods with old Ben, Mad Jack, his pluckless mule Number 7, and Nakoma, the native. When I was a kid, living out in the sagebrush on the high desert, we had very bad television reception, three snowy stations no matter what kind of tinfoil Tesla contraption we put on the rabbit ears, but I can remember watching Grizzly Adams in all of that mountain grandeur, enraptured, and wanting very badly to live in it.
In the spirit of Grizzly Adams, then, and all that he did for us, I think it is only appropriate to send out a link to Guy on a Buffalo. It is likely that some of you have lived, and I don’t know how, without getting acquainted with Guy on a Buffalo’s true exploits on the frontier. The fabulous cinematography, nonexistent dialogue, and complicated plot lines are musically accompanied by The Possum Posse, who are, in their own words, possibly the greatest band ever. I recommend watching every episode. Much like a trip to the National Gallery, and viewing great works by Georgia O’Keeffe, or Salvadore Dali in person, once you have seen Guy on a Buffalo you will understand why it is a celebrated masterwork.
It snowed again last night. Not much, a dusting, but this morning the sky is clear and blue and bright, and as I’m sitting here the resident herd of deer are parading by the window. I’m gearing up for a raid into the State of Jefferson tomorrow. It’s my favorite drive, out through Summer Lake and Paisley, then due south into the old stomping grounds. It’s a long drive, but on the way I won’t be thinking about market crashes, the evaporation of trillions in imaginary wealth, or brokers shaving off their eyebrows and leaping from some angular height. I’ll be thinking about Grizzly Adams, and that warm imaginary world that filled my daydreams as a child. And I’ll be thinking about real stories of the land out there, in the hard outback that has shaped my outlook on life. Of Shoshone Mike and his clan, who fled across that frozen country into Little High Rock Canyon, where their troubles truly began. I’ll think about the old packer up in the Warner Mountains, who was leading a string of mules along a granite ledge when he was struck by lightning, a bolt that killed them all in place. And I’ll reach back to think about some other life, when we chased wild horses across the desert for fun, slept in bedrolls under the stars, and filled our shirt pockets by the dozen with broken arrowheads. And now, deep into winter, I’ll be thinking about spring. About blooming sagebrush and the smell of alkaline dust rising in a light rain. About riding a good horse to the top of a jagged swell on the desert and looking out across the canyons and coulees, into the miles of country where one sees everything and nothing at once, and hearing that siren song that keeps pulling me out there forever.