It snows again, perhaps even a bit more than the last time, and if that earlier snow was poor man’s fertilizer, this snow must be a gift for the truly destitute. This must be the snow that takes the snow that took the snow. And yet it’s beautiful, and most so before it’s finished falling, when there’s just the faintest trace on the ground and you can still see the fine details of the forest floor through the spotty skim of it. I drive over the mountain and peer west to taller peaks. Soon the trees will bud and the leaves will emerge and this view will disappear until mid-October or even later, when the last of those leaves have fallen. But for now it’s like looking across a storm-tossed ocean, the land grey and choppy and forever unfurling.
On the weekend my friend Mark and I go exploring on our bicycles and at the junction of two little-traveled fourth-class roads – a Jeep track, really, all ruts and rock – we happen upon a middle-aged man extracting a trailer from what I assume to be the edge of his property. There’s an old Ford Ranger on the trailer, which he’s pulling with another Ford Ranger, and there are three more Ford Rangers parked (or perhaps “planted” is a better word for it; none seem to have moved in quite some time) in close proximity. The Ranger on the trailer is not a promising looking vehicle, though it does bear a large sticker across the top of the windshield that reads Ford Fuckin Ranger!! and because my son drives a Ford Ranger, and I have the idea that the sticker would please him, I ask the man if he minds if I take a photo. He does not, and we soon fall into easy conversation regarding the merits of Ford Rangers: There’s my son’s Ranger, plus Mark has a Ranger, and the man has the five of them, so there’s plenty to talk about – the best model years, the best motor options, and so on.
And now I notice that the man has fashioned his hair into a mullet, shorn on the sides and left to grow rangy across wide swath from his forehead to the nape of his neck, and for some reason it’s this detail that buoys me, or maybe it’s this detail in combination with the other details: The five Rangers, the Ford Fuckin Ranger!! sticker, the modest house/cabin in which the man plainly resides, the remnants of last season’s garden just beyond the Ranger graveyard. The garden appears well-tended and I can’t quite tell from where we’re standing, but it looks as if maybe he’s got his peas in already, and I think that although the world is falling to pieces in more ways that I know how to count, it is also holding together in many quiet ways I too often fail to notice.
I take my picture. Mark and I say goodbye to the mulleted man. He turns back to his task, and we to ours. When I get home, I show my son the photo. “Huh,” he says, and that’s about the end of that.