My Dear Friends:
Some of you have inquired about the subject, and I have strived to recover from my personal archives any surviving pieces of the original Hedshaykin material. A few of you have kindly offered to collect both the Hedshaykin and LuciuS Tanner chronicles into web pages and perhaps other media. So as not to offend any offering such help, I have decided to re-post the material; those who wish to archive it in whatever form may then pick it up and do so. Others may simply read (or not) and delete. I shall post the material in installments, not all at once. Please credit the source of Hedshaykin material as Warren Harhay (the liST administrator of the period during which Hedshaykin was active) and that of the LuciuS Tanner material as yours truly. I do not believe either of us has chosen to take a statutory copyright, but common-law copyright procedures do apply.
As I mentioned, The Shaman Hedshaykin was active on the liST (when its server was hosted in Boulder City, Nevada) in the time period approximately late 1996 through late 1997. The reason-to-be was to publicize the activities, behavior, and underlying philosophy of STOC in general and of WeSTOC in particular (especially WeSTOC97 in Missoula). LuciuS Tanner material was intended to do the same for WeSTOC98 in Taos. Unfortunately, through several transitions of electronic mail accounts and personal computers on which their local files resided, only this fragment from Hedshaykin has survived in my personal archives. Other veteran liSTers active during the period (some of whom are still active) who may have preserved collections of Hedshaykin may include (in no particular order) George Catt, Steve Beckley, Steve Kelley, Don Feyma, Hal Rumenapp, Dan Weber, Dale Wilson, and Victor Pritzker.
Anyway, just as it appeared to the liST, here 'tis. I do not know if the email account firstname.lastname@example.org is still valid (probably not). The Shaman refers in this piece to both joy and tragedy of the time. I think most readers will agree that as such it carries a sort of bittersweet charm; this was characteristically Hedshaykin, and I think some of the best of Hedshaykin that was ever written.
Installments of The Saga of LuciuS Tanner will follow, unless I am exhorted otherwise.
The shaman squinted towards the bright winters' sun hanging low in the southern sky. Even now, at noon, winters' long shadows were cast all about him. Hedshaykin welcomed the shortest day, the winter solstice. This quick unique period of twin but opposite facets. A day of endings, yet a day of beginnings. The year now was at completion in this its fourth season of transition. Visions of events these last twelve moons now past swirled vividly before him, casting intense views like a richly colored moving mural.
The clan of STOCmen, though still small in number, had swelled to just more than thirty score. They were a small band compared to the much more numerous and noisy HOGmen. And though the growth was welcome and these new found braves quickly embraced within the fold, there was yet a sadness in the old shamans' heart for those since departed. The great road warrior Ron the Major had unexpectedly departed for his long journey amongst the spirits when the moon passed through its ninth cycle. This clan elder whose advice and council to the STOCmen was sorely missed, now forever irreplaced. The pall, this loss, the longing for his companionship was yet somehow softened in evidence of his continued spirit that now finds life and is deeply woven into the hearts of those braves that he had touched and tutored in the secrets of the STeed and the ride.
In the apparition passing as if in review, Hedshaykin viewed once again the years clan gatherings that proved this STOC nation so unique. Early on, in Carolinas' climb did those EaSTOCmen gather to gallop long blue ridges with delights of trails curved and friendships freshly carved. Then again the NeSTOCmen did repeat in England New these same sweet road refrains once more. Hedshaykins' spirit had soared among the throng again in TexSTOC then again to WeSTOC for this the largest gathering of the clan, when shadows short and trails swiftest . What wonder, what thrill it was for the wizened mystic warrior to join with fellow STOCmen in their swift vivid pursuit of the joy of the ride.
Recently a stranger had come to join by his side. A mountain man, this rugged fellow of the earth, he shared the shamans' same love of nature, rode the same birth of STeed, and held that same deep burning urge to GO Ride. Quickly this LuciuS Tanner would shed the cloak of mystery and became a stranger no more. With energy the old man could no longer summon, this same LuciuS Tanner would now herald the STOCmen to their gathering in the west, when with the eighth moons passing completed its travel across the land of Mexico New, in a town called Taos, there and then the great gathering of STOCmen in the west would once again encamp. There again renew.
Yes, it will be a good year, this new cycle of many suns and moons yet to come. And with their light, new friendships and members drawn deep within the STOC fold. Hedshaykin smiled as the warming calm comfort of winters' sun glowed through the old shamans' wrinkled leathered weathered closed eyes.
The Saga of LuciuS Tanner, Part 1--written 7 Sep 97. Date of posting to liST is not precisely known--probably late December 1997 or early January 1998 (shortly following the last Hedshaykin piece on 12/19/97).
"Yoo jes; turn aroun' reeeeel slow like, Pilgrim, an' don' be reachin' fer arythin' but the sky."
This Voice from the Past was accompanied by the unmistakable click of a hammer being drawn to full-cock.
I did as ordered, and there stood face-to-face with an Apparition brandishing an ancient Rocky Mountain trade rifle leveled at my manhood. The Apparition was wrapped in trade cloth and buckskins, festooned with beads, furs, and feathers. "I..I didn't hear you come up..I..where did you..?"
"I be askin' the questions here," the Voice interrupted. "Now then. You jes' take off that funny roun' hat so's I c'n be havin' a peek at yer face-reeeeeel slow like."
This Life Form liked everything done slowly. I unstrapped and doffed my helmet, and placed it discretely on the ground to one side. As I unbended, the rifle muzzle followed my head. "I mean no harm," I ventured; "I have no weapons."
"No weapons, in country like this? Wagh! No child o' the mount'ns got no call to move in these parts in or out o' the settlements without no rifle-gun, pistol, an' al least two good stickers fer fightin'...Yore plum lucky I come along when I did, boy--whatcher biznes?" I had taken him aback; if I could keep him talking, maybe he'd put the gun away.
"I..I'm just ridin' over Palo Flechado Pass, and I stopped to rest and look out across the.."
"Ridin'? Whatchoo got to ride, anyhow? An' lessen' you be lost, this here be the Taos Gap, Pilgrim."
"Y..yessir, T-Taos Gap," I stammered, vaguely remembering the archaic name, not much used since the 1850s. "I rode..[how would a 19th century trapper comprehend the concept of a motorcycle?] that over there." I pointed a finger at my mount, securely leaning on its sidestand.
The muzzle dropped slightly, and I let my arms lower tentatively. "Keep 'em up!" he ordered. Then, casting a brief sideways glance toward my bike, he muttered, "Don' look like no pony I ever saw befor now"
"It..it's been a pretty good pony," I offered, floundering to find some commonality of symbolic language. "It brought me out from .. from the settlements."
"Well .. mebbe so an' mebbe not." For an instant I fancied a twinkle in his eye and the first vestige of a grin at the corner of his mouth, half-hidden by his unkempt mustache. "That hat o'yourn," he gestured toward my helmet, "if that don' look so shiny like y'alreddy lost yer ha'r! Some trick, that's some!" he admired.
"Yeah," I chuckled, "makes 'em think so, an' if'n they doesn't believe it, wagh! Knives an' tommyhawks bounce right off!" Ye gods! I was beginning to talk like him! But it worked; the rifle tilted downward, then straight up.
"A body cain't be too keerful out here, y'know, when meetin' another body, lessen a body be made nothin' but a body" The twinkle remained, that joke sunk in after a few seconds, and I laughed aloud in spite of my situation. My hands instinctively slapped my leathered thighs in mirth. The rifle did not move; it was going to be all right. "Lucius Tanner's the name," and this bear of a man stuck out his right hand. I grasped it, but his immense paw dwarfed and engulfed mine. Our arms pumped together a few moments.
"I'm surprised to see a trapper so close to .. the settlements" I did not want to jeopardize my situation with any more anachronisms Lucius would not recognize. His flesh seemed firm enough--but that outfit! I knew there were mountain-man re-enactors around, but this one was REAL! A time-warp? No, the Gray GhoST couldn't go so fast to .. I gave him my name, and he relaxed palpably. Did I remember correctly that exchanging real names was a mark of trust among the western mountain men and those with whom they dealt?
So what'd joo say brings you across the Taos Gap, Pilgrim?"
"My .. uh .. pony," I hesitated. "I'm just lettin' 'im blow & cool a spell, whilst I get me a eyeful o' these shinin' mount'ns." Oh, no! There it was again!
"Shinin' these mount'ns be, boy; shinin' they be." Oh, well, better than "Pilgrim." "Let's have us a looksee to that there 'pony' o' yourn." We walked over to the GhoST, and "Wagh! This here pony daid? Taint movin' a muscle!"
"Naw! I gots to wake it up first. It goes t'sleep .. uh .. 'most times I get off." I surreptitiously slipped the key into the ignition, manipulated the switches, and fired up the GhoST.
"Wagh! Makes some caterwaulin' it do, son! How you gonna sneak up on .. ?"
"Wanna ride?" I offered, retrieving and donning my helmet.
"On that? THAT? Why .. "
"Nothin' to it. Ya jes need to pull yore hat down over yer ears case ya falls off on yore haid." How else could I explain the concept of personal protective equipment?
"Why you iggerunt green pork-eater [an insult from the period of the fur trade], I been ridin' afore you were borned!"
"Then get on ahind me." In first gear, we slowly circled the patch of dirt that served as a turnout. After a couple revolutions, I stopped.
"Cain't this thing go faster? Sink yore spurs into it!" Well, after checking traffic, I shot out of that turnout and down the road to Taos as if chased by all the fiends of hell--and for all I knew, I carried one as passenger. Down the 21-miles of tight twists, following the Rio Fernando de Taos we sped. I wonder what this trapper had called this creek in his day. What am I thinking? Is he in my day, or am I in his? "Faster!! Faster!!" he exhorted. "Yeeeeeeeeeeheeeeeeeeeeee! We's goin t' Ol' Taos Rondeevoo!"
"Rendezvous", or "rondeevoo," as Lucius pronounced it, was of course the annual event that was combination trade fair, celebration, drinking party, friendly competition, and lie-swapping, where the beaver trapper between 1825 and 1840 sold his furs, replenished his supplies, and "recharged his batteries" in preparation for the next season's hunt. But all the rondeevoo .. er .. rendezvous sites I knew were far north of here--in Wyoming, mostly, with a couple in Idaho and Utah--never heard of one in Taos.
As I mused on this historical inconsistency, we broke out of the trees, and spread out before us in its spectacular mountain-plateau setting was the town of Taos. "There she be!" Lucius exclaimed. "I'll take 'er from here, son." We stopped and dismounted. Immediately Lucius turned to walk back into the woods.
"Wait, Lucius!" I called after him. "I thought you were goin' to Taos."
"That I am, son. But I got me my furs 'n plunder cached near here."
"Lucius, Taos must be a good place for a rondeevoo?"
"Wagh! None finer. Why?"
"I was thinkin'--a lot of others in my .. tribe ride the same breed of ..pony as I do. I think they might like to 'rondeevoo' here, too, in the shinin' mountains. Do you s'pose ..?"
"Mwelllllll," Lucius mused thoughtfully, "If'n y'all might gimme another ride someday .. I really like yore pony .. jes mebbe .. It'd be might sportin' o' y'all to give this y'here hivernant a tour again .." He turned away and strode toward the woods' edge.
Sport? Tour? Taos? WHY NOT? "Lucius! If the STOCmen of my tribe come, will you rondeevoo with us?"
"Could be." Came a disembodied Voice from the scrubby margin of the woods.
"LuciuS Tanner!" I called once more.
The only answer was a brief sighing of the breeze through the branches--then stillness.
notes, in the context of the times:
As time wore on, LuciuS made sporadic visits to the liST. PMS did not depress the liST subscribers nearly as severely as the previous winter, so LuciuS did not appear as frequently as did Hedshaykin the year before--Hedshaykin had his figurative hands full trying to keep spirits up in anticipation of WeSTOC97. I got heavily preoccupied with job stuff (i.e., virtual exhaustion after a day's work, trying to rehabilitate myself after The Crash of '97) throughout the winter. So LuciuS did not reappear until early summer, after JR & I had made the "scout" trip (same time as STAR, but we didn't spend much time at that event). We were at this point trying to sway some of the fence-sitters to make the decision to attend--there were (and still are) a lot of misconceptions of the High Southwest in the minds of STOCers. As I have said many times, elevation trumps latitude controlling ambient temperature. I also began the last big push to get all the material ready, and fully integrated the mountain-man theme into all the logos, etc. The t-shirt (produced by Rick Bourgoin) follows the same theme.
The Saga of LuciuS Tanner--Part 2 (written 28 June 98; Date of original post to liST is not precisely known, but probably was shortly thereafter.)
I was just finishing some notes at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.
"Been awhile, youngun."
My writing materials were airborne--the pen and clipboard launched in opposing directions.
"LuciuS Tanner! Don't sneak up on my like that! Can't you see I'm ..."
No. LuciuS would not comprehend the concept of startling one so preoccupied. He'd mumble something about a greenhorn pilgrim not watchin' his backtrail, or some such.
"Now don' get yer hackles up! I was jus' hopin' mebbe fer 'nother ride on that there pony o' yourn. An' looks like a differnt pony than last I saw--this one's black."
"After that, you dare ask me for a bike ride? I've barely started on a whole day of work on this 420-mile trip, and you..."
I fancied I saw his jaw quiver somewhat; he seemed about to cry.
"Awright. Don' mind me. I'll jus' go off..."
"Come back. I didn't mean..."
"Naw, ya don' want LuciuS aroun', so..."
"Stop! I'm sorry! Let's sit down and talk about it." I knew that mountain men were basically a rational sort. Maybe if'n I caught him up on the latest about the Ol' Taos Rondeevoo--mountain men always like to hear new stories. "Remember that Rondeevoo of the 'ponies' we talked about awhile back? Well, I mighta got about a hunnerd uv'm comin' later this summer, an'.,." It had started again--I was sounding like him. What power hath this strange man over me?
"A whole hunnerd! Wagh! This gonna be a time t' howl! Y'aint fergot 'bout ol' LuciuS, now?"
"No, LuciuS; I aint fergot. Why doncha come on down & bring yer Taos Pueblo wife along? Or has she thrown you out again?" I knew that Taos mountain men sometimes took local native wives, & heard that LuciuS had one a few miles up from Don Fernanado. Pueblo society is matrilineal, and she would own the household, while the man hunted and tended crops.
"She aint throwd me out, but she jus' might like t' shine at some hoopla ya got goin'. So whatcha got goin'? There be dancin'? Singin'? Drinkin'? Shootin'? Lyin'?"
"I don' know 'bout the rest, but there be drinkin' an' lyin' aplenty. An' ridin'."
"Tell ya what--I'll bring some folks down from the Pueblo an' we'll hooraw the town an' howl all night!"
"You bring 'em down at night for Rondeevoo, but the other 'pony' riders won't wanna howl all night. That's hard sometimes, ridin' this here 'pony' 420 miles in a day. Some might wanna do it in 2. But I'll tell ya one thing--they do this ride right, an' they'll go home lot smarter than when they came. They gotta prove they learned the countree. An' I'll tell ya another thing--some uv'm wanna know 'bout YOU!" By this time I had recovered my writing implements, and continued to make some notes.
"I aint so shure I like that much."
"Oh, LuciuS, they aint a bad lot. Why some uv'm even..." No; I won't go there. "LuciuS, how 'bout when I get back to town, we get together an'..." I looked up, and around, but the desert had swallowed him.
"LuciuS! Come back!" But only the desert breeze replied.
notes, in the context of the times:
I "commandeered" WeSTOC98 because I wanted to introduce my friends to the grandeur of the southern Rocky Mountains. Taos was an ideal base. I called it "Ol' Taos Rondeevoo" & built the thematic material from there. The great Rendezvous of 1825-1840 were way farther north, but that did not diminish Taos' pivotal role in the fur trade as a southern base of operations. Innovations in WeSTOC98 included: (a) a 3-night affair commencing on a Monday, to allow travel to/from Taos from afar on weekends (previous WeSTOCs had been on weekends; mid-week proved extremely popular w/ about 90 in attendance), (b) pre-printed nametags including the attendee's point-or-origin and STOC number, and (c) an information scavenger hunt, requiring questions to be answered from data obtainable only from roadside information/observations, successful completion of which was marked by a little nominal recognition. I had mapped out a 420-mile loop thru northern New Mexico & southern Colorado (not a big deal for Iron-Butters), but the ride could be split into two separate days, & several did that. It was called the "Smell Yer Histry, Lern Yer Flowrs" ride. [The opening line in Part 2 of the Saga, as well as the reason for the setting in Part 1, refers to the advance-scouting and compilation of questions for the information scavenger hunt.] The concept for Innovation (c) was inspired by former liSTer Tom Vervaeke, who suggested that the recommended loop-ride might be made for "rally-like". Given all the speeding tickets the year before in Montana/Idaho ("reasonable and prudent" is not interpreted by MHP to include triple-digits), I was trying to raise people's awareness of the territory beyond the space between the center line & the right shoulder [this was also accomplished in part by the now-infamous WiserSTOCs]. It seemed to work; 30 some odd people completed the "quiz", & had a grand time (very few complaints). At first some thought it dorky, as I feared, but then they got into it & got to meet each other on the road, puzzling over historic markers, etc. Recognition was the addition of two adhesive devices to one's full-color custom-printed nametag, so as to form the complete WeSTOC98 logo.
I managed to dispel lots of myths about southern Rockies in particular, and New Mexico in general ("too hot", "too low", "all desert"). By the time it was over, several had booked an extra day, & some were looking for houses for sale. Omigod! What had I done?
The Saga of LuciuS Tanner--Part 2A (written 14 July 98; Date of original post to liST is not precisely known, but probably was shortly thereafter.)
We came into possession of the
following manuscript recently. We have always had some reason to suspect
that LuciuS Tanner is (at least) partially literate. To avoid ambiguities,
however, we believe we accomplished a translation (of sorts) into the modern
vernacular [in square brackets] with
help from Steve Beckley.
Now pilgrims y'all lissen up t' ol' LuciuS Tanner. Ye be comin' to Ol' Taos Rondeevoo in a few more suns, an' y'need to pay attenshun too som advice. Ya gonna be comin' a far piece, som of ya, so better get yer plunder together an' tie it on tight.
1. New shoes fer yer pony [Tires]
We got us a good place in Taos to take
care of yore ponies includin' horseshoes [Although we have identified a good
motorcycle dealership with a reliable service department in Taos to help with
tires and other needs], y'all do the best ye can afore comin' t' Rondeevoo [why
spend time at a rally futzing with your tires?] Som of ya be wantin' to
hooraw the town an' show off yer pony reel purty like [it might be wise to
increase the safety margin a bit with fresh rubber. The same admonition
applies to the overall
maintenance of your Steed.]
2. Mind Yer Manners [Moderation]
I knowed som of ya be wantin' to ride together. Ya need to find out how fast or slow the leeder wants to take ya. They's lotsa trails about Taos, an' som of 'em is fast and som of 'em ain't. [Group riding is a key part of WeSTOC and it can be a lot of fun. Don't hesitate to ask about the intended "pace" of the group you are thinking of joining. Find out who is leading whom and ask around about the intended route.] That Booshway feller be glad t' help ya find some mighty purty shinin' mountins and prairies t' ride yore pony [Steve Lambert knows the territory fairly well, and will describe several possible routes for riding in addition to the main loop ride.] I knowed y'all be larnin' 'bout this here countree from a pony, but if'n yore jus' tryin' to hold on, yore gonna miss a lot of it [Always make sure the riding pace is comfortable for you. It's OK to be challenged a bit, but you are probably asking for trouble if you are riding at a level of intensity you would never consider if you were by yourself. Remember, some of you have never ridden these trails before, and there is NO GROUP RECOGNITION for completing a ride in a minimum time.]
3. Giv' yore pardners som space [The Two-Second Rule]
Take it frum this hivernant, ya don' want yore pony too close t' others. Think what'd happen if'n sombuddy's pony tripped and fell into your'n and you fell over too. [WeSTOC photo archives commonly show 4 or 5 Steeds when there is safe navigating room only for two. Always keep TWO SECONDS of distance between your mount and those of your companions.] If'n ye be leadin' a brigade over the trail, make shore ever'buddy knows yore plan. If'n sombuddy wants t' leave the brigade, that'll shine too-jus' make shure everbuddy unnerstans. [If you are leading a ride, make your intentions clear about when you plan to stop and what responsibility you will take for keeping the group together. It's OK to have a free-for-all ride-just make sure everyone understands the situation.] We be in hostile territoree som o' th' time, so we cain't be jawin' each other much. [Use of hand signals and turn signals in a group ride, well in advance of the planned action, is a good way to communicate when voice links are not available.]
4. Y'all need t' stay awake an' watch yore backtrail [Stay alert].
Y'all be comin' to Rondeevoo t' howl sum after a long ride jus' t' git heer. Sum pilgrims might be plum tuckered out. [After a long journey, relax a little. But don't relax your vigilance to traffic, road hazards, etc. It would be a shame to dump in a gravel-strewn intersection after 250+ miles of intense mountain-carving, simply because of a moment's inattention.]
5. Mind yore plunder [Be prepared]
Summer don't cum to The Shinin'
Mountins of New Spain [New Mexico] till late in trappin' season. Snow
ain't out o' the woods yet in them higher passes. [Early in the morning,
temperatures can be in the 30's at 10,000 feet, even
in New Mexico. Pack some cold-weather riding gear on every ride-including winter gloves, a jacket liner or electric vest, and maybe a neck warmer. You might consider heated grips.] An' don' fergit yore meatbag [stomach]. Food an' water can be mighty welkum out here in the High Lonesome.
6. Don' git riled [Stay mellow]
The Booshway an' hiz lootennants com t' Rondeevoo to have a good time, jus' like yoo, an' ain't nobody have t' pay no hard-earned trade goods jus' t' come. We want everythin peaceable like here t' Rondeevoo. [The convener and his helpers don't get paid for their services, and no registration fee is charged. So don't expect certain amenities because you think they should be offered. In fact, several people have given of their time and money to make this gathering memorable, with no other hope of reward.] If'n ya git throwd in the hoosgow, doncha go expectin' the Booshway to bail ya out. An' watch out fer that Taos Lightnin'. [If you have more fun than is legally allowed, be good natured about it and treasure your official commemorative certificate from the States of New Mexico and/or Colorado. Excessive alcohol consumption, especially at 7000 feet, can impair one's judgement. Enjoy the beverage of your choice AFTER your riding is finished for the day, and in moderation.] An' doncha go ransackin' the plunder of others. They worked hard fer theirs, too. [Always respect the personal property of your fellow WeSTOC participants.]
I ain't heerd tell uv Rondeevoo fer the nex trappin' season yet.
notes, in the context of the times:
As the time grew near for WeSTOC98, Steve Beckley (the convener of WeSTOC97 in the previous year) offered some thoughts about bike safety and preparation, but didn't want to be pedantic about it. So I cast Steve's sage counsel, based on the experience of participation and observation, into LuciuS [probable] words. To this day, the words of LuciuS (and Steve) are pretty good counsel for just about any group riding occasion.
The last line refers to the fact that at the time no convener or venue had been identified for WeSTOC99, questions about such subjects having been posted to the liST in the weeks previous.
The Saga of LuciuS Tanner--Part 2B (written 22 July 98; Date of original post to liST 23 July 98)
**********************FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**********************
TWO MEDICINE, MT (AP) In a fit of pique, the Governing Council of the Honda ST1100 Owners' Club ("STOC") announced their unanimous resignation, adjourned suddenly, and hastily stalked out of the council chambers. Sources indicate that member dissatisfaction with the Council, together with threats of commissioning an Independent Counsel, moved the Council to take this final action.
Council members would not respond to reporters' requests for a press conference, but brushed aside questions with mumblings about "peasants with pitchforks". Spiritual leaders of STOC, including The Shaman Hedshaykin and notorious Taos mountain man LuciuS Tanner could not be reached for comment.
This upheaval prompted Dr. Steven Lambert of Albuquerque, New Mexico, to respond to the Council's action. Lambert, self-styled "Booshway" (a mountain-man term for the overseer of a rendezvous, or rocky-mountain trade-fair type gathering) of an event termed "WeSTOC98" has announced that he will take similar action. Lambert commented, "There's nothing more I can do. I report directly to the Council. Now that they've walked out, I'm next. Once the grand jury convenes, I'm toast. They'll start to make connections." When asked about his continued role in WeSTOC98, he replied, "There is none. I quit."
Lambert slipped from the gathered reporters, mumbling something about collecting his survival gear and getting ready for an extended trip. Lambert is wanted for questioning regarding a possible kickback scheme involving the upscale restaurant, Lambert's of Taos.
Sources further suggested that the fate of WeSTOC98 remained uncertain, following Lambert's resignation. Neither a replacement for Lambert, nor a convener for WeSTOC99 (if any) has been identified.
notes, in the context of the times:
The liST was getting antsy through July. Emotions were still running high over the "Monica Lewinsky Scandal" and related non-ST subjects. People were canceling their WeSTOC room reservations and trading rooms to each other at the last minute. Someone suggested an election to recall the STOC Governing Council (as if there were one), and current events being what they were, this was just too good to pass up, so..........I wrote the above news release..
The Saga of LuciuS Tanner--Part 3 (written 22 August 98; Date of original post to liST 25 August 98)
I was in the Taos General Mercantile the other day. The counter was not too crowded, so I pressed on up.
I felt a bump, possibly from an elbow, and then a voice bellowed near my ear, "Ah'm goin' huntin'! Gimme some lead 'n' powder!"
Despite the persistent ringing in my ear, I managed a response: "LuciuS? I ain't seen YOU in awhile! How the hell ya been?"
"I been MAD, thankee very kindly! That's what I been!"
"Ya wanna come on out 'n' talk about it?"
"NO! I don' wanna talk about it! Ah'm goin' huntin', I say!"
"OK, OK; 'you're goin' huntin'', ya say." Sheesh.
The counter clerk filled his order, and collected payment--two prime winter beaver pelts. A long awkward pause later, he turned to me slowly, and said, "Ya comin' er ain'tcha?"
My heart leapt! "Do ya mean it? You'd take ME huntin' with YOU?" I knew LuciuS Tanner was legendary for his hunting prowess, and for one of my --er--limited experience to be even invited to be in the company of one of the greatest hunters-trappers-mountainmen was an indescribable honor.
"Wagh! You pilgrims don' know nothin'! I s'pose I gotta wet nurse ya like a baby buffler calf!"
That was true enough; I had never been hunting mountain-man style. Still, his comment stung. I said nothing. Then, "I say, ya comin' er ain'tcha?"
"Yes, yes, yes; anything you say!" It was clear who was to be in charge of this expedition. What if I had said no? Would my hide then be worth even so much as one of LuciuS' beaver plews? There was nothing to do but follow him out the front door, to where he must have had his pack string tied, and from thence I knew not where. What did I see, but... not one, but TWO Indian Appaloosa ponies saddled and outfitted, ready to go! I stood for a moment, mouth agape--this outfit would shame collections in museums!
"Well whatcha waitin' fer, snowfall? Yer mouth is gonna collect every fly in Spanish Territory! Gitcher ass up there! Why I bother with such a iggorant greenhorn's beyond this chile. Ain'tcha never climbed up a horse afore?"
"You got all this ready for ME?"
"Who'dja think I got it ready fer, Slick Willy? Now jump to it!"
"LuciuS, I don't know what to say, I..."
"Then quit sayin' an' start ridin'!"
I climbed aboard, trying to remember what they taught us about Rocky Mountain horses during my days at Philmont Scout Ranch.
We rode north out of town, past the village of El Prado, and into open country. It was a typically perfect, warm, breezy, slightly humid and hazy late summer Rocky Mountain day. Finally, I ventured back into conversation: "LuciuS, I really thank you for this, I..."
"Taint nothin'. Ya let me on back o' YORE pony awile back. Leastways I c'n show ya how a REEL mountin man rides. Race ya!"
We galloped up and down the hills and valleys toward Costilla, LuciuS yelling at the top of his lungs "Yeeeeeeeeeeehaw!" and I managing a feeble "Yeeha" once in awhile, trying not to grab the saddlehorn and look like a total klutz. By and by, LuciuS slowed his pony to a comfortable lope, then a trot, and eventually I caught up. "That wuz sum, say Pilgrim?"
"Yeah, that wuz sum doin's all right!" The glow of joyous freedom-of-the-hills slowly faded from his face, and he assumed a thoughtful demeanor I had not previously seen in LuciuS. He stopped and dismounted, and I did likewise. He gazed off northward and westward.
"I tell ya what I'm huntin', Pilgrim--I'm huntin' PEEPLE!"
"I didn't think you LIKED people, LuciuS. I thought you mostly avoided 'em."
"Dam' right! I get so mad at 'em!"
Finally, I'd find out what this was all about. "Well, I know we ain't angels..."
"That ain't what I'm talkin' about at all, an' if you'd jus' lissen a minute!"
"OK, OK, OK! I won't say any more!"
"As I was sayin'," he growled, "I seen a lot in this ol' world. I ain't got no stummick nomore fer what ya all done. Ya killed all the buffler. Ya put up yer houses all over Creation. Ya jus' take an' take an' take an' ya don't give annything back! I seen ya fightin' each other, an' sayin' bad things to each other, and lyin' and cheatin' and stealin' and killin' them what don' needs killin'. Ya complains 'bout the trails, then ya complains about them what tries to make better ones. Ya wants 'em all t' yerself. Then ya blames sumbuddy else when som'n bad happens." I felt some shame for a moment; here was this Apparition standing in judgement of our modern society. I hung my head. Then, he seemed less harsh: "I seed whatcha tried to do in Taos with all them ponies cum t' town. Ya done good tryin' t' teach them other pilgrims 'bout the shinin' times of Ol' Rondeevoo. Naw I ain't much fer big hooraws like that, but I seen whatcha done. Ya done good. Some o' them pilgrims don' wanna come t' Rondeevoo an' see our shinin' mountins, and THEMS Ah'm huntin'."
"Oh, LuciuS, NO! They got lives all their own! They don't ALL wanna come to Rondeevoo!"
"Not come t' Rondeevoo? How they gonna get their funnin' fer 'nother year an' NOT come t' Rondeevoo?"
Well, LuciuS, it's a long trip fer some of 'em, an'..."
"Long trip, my ASS! Yore ponies is MADE fer 'long trip'! Them what don't come t' YORE Rondeevoo when YOO went to THEIR rondeevoo just ain't neighborly like! You go t' their rondeevoo last trappin' season and git yorself in a tangle with a griz' bear, and yore pony kilt, and they don't come to your'n? Thems Ah'm huntin'."
"LuciuS, I really wish you wouldn't. None of us is perfect. We ain't always friendly. We ain't always even straight with each other. We fight about the colors of our ponies, an' where rondeevoo should be, but we don't mean anything by it. We're just... well... friends, that's all."
LuciuS thought about that a long time. Then he said, "Kinda like me 'n' you?"
The two of us? Friends? FRIENDS!? This grizzled old misanthropic hivernant would welcome ME as a FRIEND? Was this a dream? Had this Apparition from the Past become too real to me, this fantasy I had invented to escape the cares and responsibilities of my workaday world? What was he really saying to me? Had he strummed a chord on the strings of my soul, awakening some long-forgotten urging of mine to have been part of a foolishly imagined overly-romanticized period in the past?
Through the distant haze, I beheld the familiar geography of my world, but where were the towns? On our ride, we had passed what I thought should have been San Luis, but the plain stretched empty! The site had been continuously occupied since 1851! And had I missed Fort Garland somehow? I recognized Blanca Peak towering above us with its mantle of perpetual snow. We surmounted the pass, eastward, ever eastward. The haze began to lift, and I saw...thousands of bison! Bison had not inhabited the Cuchara Valley for ... how many years? Then in the distance--Bent's old fort! At least that's what it looked like in the drawings I had seen.
We rode on. I became more comfortable riding LuciuS' pony (my pony?) as we crossed the familiar yet-to-be-named-by-explorers streams and mesas. We drew near the gates of the fort. We dismounted.
LuciuS turned once again, and restated his persistent question: "Ya comin' er ain'tcha? Let's go huntin'!"
I thought for about 160 years, about my friends, the remnants of my family, my house, my techno-toys, including my motorcycle. I knew that if I followed LuciuS Tanner, to "hunt" what we both really sought, I would be leaving all those behind. Forever.
"Yeah," I said.
Some modern observers report that at that moment, the haze once more descended, and enveloped the two figures--now friends--leading their ponies, walking side by side into history.
The noisy traffic of the Front Range Corridor along Interstate Highway 25 all but drowned out the sound of the breezes coursing their way down from the high mountains to sweep across the western plains.
notes, in the context of the times:
After Part 2B (The Press Release), I had received a suggestion or two regarding a follow up. I felt the need for some closure to the mini-saga, especially in view of (a) the pleasant surprises afforded the participants at WeSTOC in Taos, and (b) the unfortunately strident turn the tone of the liST took following President Clinton's speech the week before.
This is the last known documented account of LuciuS Tanner. Any reports of subsequent sightings, not accompanied by sufficiently detailed verifiable documentation, are best met with a significant degree of skepticism.
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Last updated: May 24, 2004