Grasshopper Soup: Get that cow off my mind
Special to the Sun
TAHOE CITY, Calif. and#8212; It wasnand#8217;t even June yet, and I was lying on my deck at 5:45 in the evening, 6,220 feet above sea level, wearing nothing but light-weight summer pajama shorts, with a gentle breeze for my cover, and I was as warm as a mammal could be, in the shade! No shirt, no shoes, no socks, no gloves and no wool cap.
I was also dripping with sweat, which is why I decided to lie outside, and the breeze caressed the sweat of the day away with no chill to my flesh. I was in heaven.
I tried to imagine what a dog or a cat, a cow or a mountain lion would be thinking if they were in my position, which I am sure they often are. Animals are natural enough to know that the best thing to do when youand#8217;re lying around is to think about nothing, so I emptied my mind. I tell you, animals have the right idea. Nothing is better than lying around doing nothing except doing it with an empty mind.
Some people call it being lazy or worthless. Others call it nirvana, or the sacred cow.
As William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States said, and#8220;No tendency is quite so strong in human nature as the desire to lay down rules of conduct for other people.and#8221; Governments are no exception. Governments love to lay down rules of conduct for other people, especially people who are laying around doing nothing.
Someone could come along with the strong human nature tendency and tell me to get up, pay off the national debt and balance the budget. The government should be happy Iand#8217;m lying here playing it safe, thinking like a cow. No harm can come from that. Besides, cows donand#8217;t care what people think, which makes them not un-like the government.
The Department of Labor has made it virtually impossible for kids living on a farm to actually live on a farm. Farm kids arenand#8217;t allowed to help out on the farm anymore. Iand#8217;m not even sure if they can stay in the house and play chess, or make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, because it requires using a knife, and you could choke on a pawn playing chess. Iand#8217;d rather choke on a pawn than be one. Kids donand#8217;t know any better.
Government would make more sense if it were born in a barn.
Lying content on my deck, my favorite line from one of my favorite movies, and#8220;Legends of The Fall,and#8221; starring Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt and Aidan Quinn, came to mind. Colonel Ludlow, Hopkinsand#8217; character, and his son Tristan (Brad Pitt), were thinking about bootlegging liquor to save the ranch since they had to sell all their cattle at a loss due to the poor cattle market. Laughing in the face of the risks of bootlegging, Colonel Ludlow, barely able to speak due to a stroke, said, and#8220;Screw the government!and#8221;
Maybe thatand#8217;s why cows look so content, because they think like Colonel Ludlow. Cows know what life is all about. I was beginning to catch on. Lying there in the shade, thinking nothing, I was making much needed room in my mind for substantial ideas.
Gerald Ford, the 38th U.S. president, said, and#8220;A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have.and#8221;
These political quotes were beginning to bother me, like the words of a dumb song playing over and over again in my mind. But politics and empty minds are not necessarily incompatible. And the only trouble with political jokes is that they get elected.
Governments could change every day and theyand#8217;d still never change. They think they are herding cows, which, when you think about what they have to work with sometimes, could be considered an honest mistake.
The world hasnand#8217;t changed much since Iand#8217;ve been alive. Thatand#8217;s why lying on the deck in Tahoe, as content as a cow, makes good horse sense.
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 30 years.
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