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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Well, I’ve done it again: set out with a plan and watched it go up in smoke, simply because I will get talking to people. This morning it was Badger Buckley telling me about his background in martial arts, learning Japanese, and German and French, and travelling to Okinawa, and growing organic vegetables, and grapes, and making wine out at Crawford… and slipping me an ancient spear-point as a parting gift.

Later, over my hot tea, it was Yvonne Sandoz, clearly exhausted with all the jawing she’s done over the past two weeks or so – not to mention shooting prairie dogs from the cab of a pick-up yesterday. Y’see, old Hector St Jean de Crevecoeur was dead right: take a mild-mannered, civilised European, stick `em out on the Plains for a week or two, and what do they turn into? Killers. And talking of killers, here’s a deadly weapon I found on the bar at the Olde Main this morning.

It’s a replica, but a working one. Jeannie has a small collection and is always pleased to drag them out for curious visitors – or to keep the peace:

I’m going to keep this brief (again) as the day is running away with me. It’ll soon be noon and I haven’t eaten; and I need to try to wind things up at the Sandoz Heritage Center archive so that I can get back to the red house before dark. But my time here has been useful. There are always dark corners in a narrative as complicated as Mari Sandoz’, and I’ve managed to shed a little light – at least on my own areas of doubt. As regards note-taking, I’ve taken the lazy way this trip, photographing a number of documents rather than transcribing them. I can’t resist showing this page from her original manuscript of “The Christmas of the Phonograph Records”, one of my favourite pieces, which suggests the extent to which she re-wrote, and re-wrote, and then re-wrote some more until she felt she had got the content right and the mood, tone and texture the way she wanted it.

Tomorrow I doubt that I’ll post an entry. With luck, and a following wind, I should be hiking down Leander creek and back. So I’ll catch up Friday. Well, that’s the plan – and we all know what happens to plans out here.

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