Grasshopper Soup: Beauty is in the eye of the art thief | SierraSun.com

Grasshopper Soup: Beauty is in the eye of the art thief

Bob Sweigert
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE and#8212; Who stole Dabayoand#8217;Duwe?, and who wants the rock in the middle of it to sink a boat?

Dabayoand#8217;Duwe? is the Washoe Indian name for the land and water area where Lake Tahoe meets the Truckee River. In low water years, the Truckee River begins on the lake side of the dam. In high water years, like this year, Lake Tahoe swallows up the Truckee River there and the river becomes one with the lake. The Truckee moves west, where the dam gates sift it from Lake Tahoe so it looks like a river again.

Earlier this summer I watched a man hang a sign between two light posts, right smack in the middle of the carefully designed lake-view corridor at the new and improved white manand#8217;s Dabayoand#8217;Duwe?. In honor of the former Washoe Indian site, the artistic, colorful sign read, and#8220;Dabayo Duwe.and#8221;

Since the man hung the sign in broad daylight, either he had some official stamp of approval, or he was making a brazen attempt to put up a fine piece of art without official approval. The art blocked the best, and only, view of Lake Tahoe at the Tahoe City and#8220;Wye.and#8221; It turns out it was done in collaboration with the local art society and influential kingpins.

One widely accepted school of thought on art says that man-made works of art cannot improve upon a natural work of art. The Washoe Indians did not destroy the great cave at Swallows Bank to make room for a bike trail. The white man did. The cave, which was not far from Dabayoand#8217;Duwe?, was a natural work of art, like the lake. It is gone forever.

Karma snuck in under the cover of darkness, at about 1:30 a.m. on August 19th, as a friend of mine watched two people use a step ladder to cut down the Dabayoand#8217;Duwe? sign, and then abscond with it. The eye witness chose not to interfere, based more on a sense of approval for the deed unfolding before his eyes than anything else, he confided.

Later that morning he showed me the restored lake view and told me about the heist. I expressed my complete disapproval of the theft, because I had thought of cutting the Dabayoand#8217;Duwe? sign down myself! Foiled again. While trying to decide if I should hatch my plot in total darkness, or do it in broad daylight, a rival gang beat me to it.

Yes, Dabayoand#8217;Duwe? is stolen property, but thatand#8217;s all water under the bridge now.

In low water years a big, pointed rock painted red, white and blue, is fully visible in the middle of the river channel at Dabayoand#8217;Duwe?. In high water years, Lake Tahoe covers the point of the rock by a few inches, making it a navigational hazard for boats.

Earlier this summer a gentleman, who uses the lake for boating in the morning, noticed that the rock was dangerously submerged just below the surface of the water, and unmarked, so, like a true captain, he took command of the situation. He crafted a professional warning buoy, with the official international colors for marking a submerged obstacle, and set it perfectly in place, with a well-gauged anchor and line, at the rock.

His work of art was removed by someone who apparently got away with it, anchor and all, without being observed.

I called the Coast Guard to see if they removed the buoy due to some regulation I didnand#8217;t know about, prohibiting a private citizen from marking a submerged obstacle. There is no such rule. The Coast Guard did not remove the good Samaritanand#8217;s buoy. They applauded the man for his act of community service, and had no idea why anyone in their right mind would want to remove his safety marker. Maybe it spoiled the thiefand#8217;s lake view.

All the thieves got away. One theft was a work of guerilla art, or community service art, but the buoy removal was the work of an anti-social, common thief with poor boat sense.

At least weand#8217;re all having fun, thatand#8217;s the main thing. Just watch out for the rock.

Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, former college instructor and ski instructor. He has a B.A. and an M.A.T. from Gonzaga University. He has lived at Lake Tahoe for 28 years.