Why Colonel Sartoris?

Allow me to explain the puzzling title. Colonel Sartoris is William Faulkner's greatest character. He exemplifies those values that his society cherishes, namely tradition, patriarchy, courtliness, and courage. Though modernity's slow march tries to strip him of these things, Sartoris continues to live as he always has, knowing that "the past is never dead. It's not even past." He seeks order in the honorable folkways and mores of his forbears. Let us not forget his example.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How Cactus can F up a Weedeater: July 1st

I was going to title this post "First Day on the Job," but that title was boring, and the title is actually more appropriate. Let me clarify, as well: I'm not working on a working cattle ranch. I am working for a company that is transforming a cattle ranch into a cattle ranch that has lakefront homes and residential amenities. That said, my duties include the following: fence mending, horse feeding, cow catching, clearing land, weed-eating, boat cleaning, boat parking, and a host of other duties. The temperature is in the upper 90's, and it's either dry as a bone or flooding. For those of y'all who have never been to the state, Texas encompasses a wide range of climates and topographies. The eastern portion of the state receives in excess of 35 inches of rain a year. Pine forests, creeks, and bayous cover East Texas. Starting at Dallas, and extending through Ft. Worth, rainfall continues to drop until you hit El Paso, at the farthest western point of the state, which is situated in a true desert. Where I'm working, in Graford, TX (two hours west of Dallas), is not a desert, but it has rocky soil and drought tolerant grasses and shrubs that can survive long dry spells. And many of these shrubs are, indeed, cacti.
What you see in the picture is prickly pear cactus. The fibrous, fleshy plant will explode in your face when you hit it with a weed-eater, and cactus juice and cactus spines ("stickers") will jump on every part of your body. The juice will harden and stick to you. I was very, very thankful for sunglasses, which were covered in dried cactus juice in an hour. It was a rough day of 8 hours of weedeating, under fencelines and by the road. But it was great to be back home and in a beautiful place.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Back in Big D

I got a job at a ranch a couple hours west of Dallas.  I needed to start Monday/Tuesday, so I drove from Asheville, NC to Dallas, TX in one day.  And, yes, making the trip was the same Mabesmobile that has no air-conditioning.  Also accompanying me was my 90 pound golden retriever (Boomer), whose breath and general muskiness did very little to improve in-flight conditions in the cabin.  That said, I had Conway, Loretta, George, and Willie to keep me company on the way home, and I was actually surprised that I made it home at a decent hour.  I left at 8:15
 in Asheville, and made it to my parents' house by 10:20.  It was great to be back.
I was not surprised that Arkansas continues to suck.