Once you get used to the idea, it's not so bad, really.

I'm talking about the realization that we're all prey. No matter who you are or where you live, something is gonna getcha sooner or later! There's just no way around it. Most people do whatever they can to avoid thinking about this and that's just fine. Anything else would make for awful conversation, for one thing. But it's actually a rather soothing realization. I mean, if what most people seem to fear the most is going to happen anyway, why waste the energy on making yourself miserable?

I spent an awful lot of time this past year worrying about how I was going to support us out here in the wilderness and I still don't have it figured out. But we aren't starving. There's still money in the bank. I'm making some of what we need, at least, and the future is unknown -- not scary, necessarily, just unrevealed. If I hadn't indulged in all that panic, anxiety, and depression, the future would still be unknown, and in the end, something would get me. So what's the point of being afraid?! Heck, I could've had a good time! This is really uproariously funny, when you get right down to it.

Here's another example: remember three years ago when Apple was "beleaguered"? I worried like a sumbitch about whether I'd have a decent computer to use if Apple folded. The predators were circling, too, closing in for the kill. We stood there, said we believed in Macs, and stray dogs wandered over to pee on our legs while the crowd guffawed. But now? Jobs has his own executive jet, ha-ha. What did all the worrying produce? Did we save Apple? I hardly think so. Will Apple survive? Absolutely not! ("Chomp!") I give it 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 years, maybe. Eventually there won't be anyone around who even cares, either. There, now don't you feel better?

Living in the Land of Weirdness can teach you a lot about the way of all flesh, too. Do you remember those old nature films about Africa, the ones where the buzzards descend en masse onto whatever the lions leave behind? A couple of weeks ago on a very cold night, I found a dead mouse in a trap behind the washing machine. Not desiring to traipse off into the freezing-ass cold with the carcass, I simply levered the spring open with my finger, flipped the rodent out into the darkness, and never gave it a second thought. The next night I decided to gather up an armload of firewood and turned on the outside light. This time, for whatever reason, I peered out through the tiny window in the door before stepping out: WHOA! The biggest skunk I had ever seen was five feet from the front door, chowing down on something. . .

Our geranium-rustling rat met a similar fate. After releasing him, her, or it from the monstrous trap and leaving the body at the far end of the back "yard," I went back to my life of sitting in front of the monitor and getting fat. On Sunday morning, however, what I like to think of as our resident coyote ambled out from the woods, looked right and left, then made a beeline for the spot where I'd left the rat. This was about ten o'clock, in broad daylight as the saying goes (is there such a thing as "narrow" daylight?), and the handsome brownish-gray animal took several minutes to crunch his way through his frozen rat meal. While he chewed, raising his head in between bites to scan the surroundings, several magpies and jays flew in to occupy the lower branches of a couple of nearby scrubby trees. I immediately thought of the vultures on the Serengeti, and sure enough, after he trotted away licking his lips, the birds dropped down to eat whatever he had left. (A bit of chilled rat menudo, I suppose.) Naturally I never once thought to pick up my Nikon and take a picture of the beast. When you're "in the moment," you never do.

This afternoon I gazed out the "dining room" window to the west and noticed what appeared to be a number of cars stopped along the main highway a couple of miles distant. (We keep a pair of binoculars handy for looking at the road, you see, so we can tell when the snow has melted and it's safe to drive to town.) I quickly focused and confirmed the presence of a dozen or more vehicles, including police cars and either an ambulance or paddy wagon. What ho, more predation! A roadblock, apparently, either a controlled substances crackdown or a hunt for illegals. It could have also have been the Mother of All Car Crashes, except that several hours later they were still there, having apparently brought an ample supply of donuts with them. I'm still shaking my head over this one, because where we live you can go for weeks without ever seeing a cop. . . (Maybe something awful happened there: police as vultures?)

Cops, coyotes, cold, and crazy ideas can kill you sure enough, but what about ALIENS! Yes friends and neighbors, we live just beyond the southern end of one of the most mysterious places on earth, the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado. Everything imaginable has happened here at one time or another, and from all accounts it's still going on: UFO sightings, cattle mutilations, alien visitations, and more. People have seen bizarre translucent flying snakes ("prairie dragons"), gigantic mountain-sized birds (the legendary thunderbird?), huge silent triangular air- or spacecraft that blot out the sky, and fireballs descending into the earth. You want black helicopters? (Yes, those!) Well, we got 'em. Helicopters, blue lights, military planes disappearing in mid-air, secret bases, underground thumps and rumbles, the "Taos hum," legends of subterranean ant-people, etc. And to top it all off, the nearby mountains are said to be places of very big medicine for certain Indian tribes. The "sipapu," or place of origin, where humans first came into the world in the Navajo tradition, is rumored to be somewhere near the sand dunes west of Mount Blanca. Yes, the sand dunes: they're 700 feet high and no one knows how they got there.

The vastness of this place, especially north from here into Colorado, can make you feel like an ant on a griddle or a crippled zebra alone on the veldt. And there's nothing like driving along a totally deserted highway at 80mph and realizing you haven't seen another car in the last half hour! Suppose your car dies just before sunset, the temperature drops to 15 below in a couple of hours, and there's no cell phone coverage. Well. . .

Worrying about how to make a living seems less important than staying alive in the first place, obviously. And since we all have to go sometime regardless, why, what's the fuss? About anything? All I ask is that the next time you see me down in the dumps about dental bills or mortgage payments, please give me a good swat upside the head and remind me I said all this. We may move back to civilization soon, you see --

And I'm afraid I'll forget!




John H. Farr also edits the news for and invites your comments. The Farr Site Archives will take you to the past three years of columns. John also writes a monthly op-ed page column called "El Emigrante" for Horse Fly in Taos, NM and has an ongoing project called Zoozone News that he really wants you to visit (over 70 New Mexico pictures can be seen at the Photorama).

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The FARR SITE is © copyright 2000, John H. Farr, all rights reserved.

January 29, 2001 "Moving Right Along"
January 22, 2001 "Digital Deathstyle"
January 15, 2001 "Gibble Gobble, One of Us"
January 8, 2001 "High Desert Satori"
January 1, 2001 "Psychic Cats Predict Wild Year Ahead"
December 25, 2000 "Christmas in Dubuque..."
December 18, 2000 "Merry Christmas, I Think!"
December 11, 2000 "Easy Does It, Someday"

Farr Site Archives