Monday, February 4, 2013

Don't Be Afraid to Climb Mountains...

Helping cut green beans for dinner...
 We were at the check-out line when I realized I'd forgotten freezer bags. The good news was, they were right there at the end of the aisle, so I didn't have to go very far. I left my son in charge of unloading our cart, and stepped over to grab a box of freezer bags. I have about a gazillion pounds of pecans I'd picked up in my parents yard and had shelled that need to be cleaned up and stored, a time consuming task worth every effort. Walking back to the check-out, wondering when I was ever going to find time to finish the job, I nodded hello to the elderly gentleman who'd came to place in line behind us.  He was bearded and stout, with a red cap over bushy white hair and a heavy flannel jacket, jeans, and hiking boots.

"Do you climb mountains?" My son asked the man, out of the clear blue sky. He chuckled, "Why yes, I did, young man. Many of 'em, back in the day."

"Do you look for gold?" was the next question. "Well, kind of. Found a vein of silver once, but it was on government property so it didn't help me none. Loved roaming out west, though. Had me a burro for a long time. We'd go up in them hills and stay long as we could. You prospect?"

I explained to him that my father was a long time prospector, and that I'm climbed many a mountain and was taking my son on his first real climb this summer.

"Lemme tell you, tell your dad he needs to go to Yuma, out by Arizona," the old-timer went on, and told the story of a special place of legend, just somewhere between the California and Arizona borders, about 3 days on foot from Yuma, and a lot of other twists and turns and even a trailer park landmark, and if a person might find themselves in a certain place at a certain time, they'd see the opening to a treasure trove of gold that has not been seen in 100 years. "Its like another planet out there, in the desert," he said. "Like another time."

Fabulous story. And a fabulous, bold man. He was rustic and authentic, and I did not doubt a word of his tale. Before heading out, he turned to my son and smiled. "Live big, little man," he said, "and don't be afraid to climb mountains."

Later that evening, while preparing supper together, we talked about the mountain man and his story of hidden gold and trekking up and down mountains with burros. "I hope we see him again," my son said.

I do, too.

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