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Don’t mess with rocks at the ranch; they might talk back

Mike Drummond
Mike Drummond, Columnist
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

I am on intimate terms with every twig and rock on Clear Creek Ranch. So I knew something was different about the path leading down to the pond. Something was out of place. Or rather something was IN place that hadn’t been there the night before – a boulder.

When I got close, the boulder talked. It asked me (in American English) what time it was. Its markings reminded me of Desert Storm, so I answered in quasi-military parlance, “O-600 hours.” And then my mind exploded with money-making schemes.

If that Pet Rock Guy made millions by boxing up river rocks, how much more would talking rocks bring in? Could it sing? Were there more talking boulders around? Could I crack this one apart, turning into smaller talking chunks? Would that change their voices, or would they still talk at all? How large was its/their vocabulary? In years to come would my biography begin, “He had a rocky start in life….”

This turned out to be a mute (and moot) point. My future fortune elongated itself into human form, thanked me and trudged off down the trail.

I had been talking with a wild turkey hunter covered in camouflage netting. He must have wandered across the property line from an adjoining quarter section in the pre-dawn darkness. Expensively dressed for combat with wild birds – camouflage clothes, boots, face makeup and netting. Even his shotgun had a camo pattern on it.

Naturalist John Muir wandered the Sierra on foot for weeks, with nothing more than a loaf of bread in his suit coat pocket. No fancy mountaineering duds, no coonskin cap. He dressed the same for his lonely jaunts as he would if he were going to the bank to ask for a loan.

What would he make of today’s paint-ball Rambos as they drown out the echoes of his footsteps on their ATVs, churning up dust on the trails he blazed? But vehicles aside, clothing provides the starkest contrast between the eras. Rugged modern outdoors-persons care as much about style as they do function.

Judging by the offerings in the Sportsman Guy catalogs I’ve seen, if it isn’t camouflage, spangled with grommets, cinched together with Velcro straps, crisscrossed with two-way zippers, outdoor types don’t want it. Never mind that much of this “all-American” stuff is made in a third world country to the “rigorous military specifications” of an obscure mini-power, like the Swiss navy.

Why do so many people have the overwhelming urge to dress like extras from some plotless movie where the sparse dialogue is punctuated by frequent and spectacular explosions?

And during those interludes between the pyrotechnics and glimpses of Bruce Willis, for those who prefer to clothe their sexual fantasies in layers of concealment, there are camo-camisoles for “her,” a camo body veil for “him” and a camo ATV cover for “it.”

My favorite among the many catalog camo-creations being offered: the camouflage “little john” portable urinal – guaranteed to hold over two cans of recently processed beer. “Don’t foul the area near your tree stand!” the copy warns. And I thought getting hit by a falling pine cone was the worst that could happen to me when I wander through the Ranch wood lot. From now on, I’ll be wearing my camo-colored foul liquid gear during my strolls and giving the trees plenty of room – and being extra polite to all the rocks.

You never know when one of them might be armed.

Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer whose column appears on Tuesday. You can write him in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or e-mail him at miked@theunion.com.


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