The Wild West

onceupunatimeyellowMay 5, 1863 — Here on the frontier, I sometimes wonder if the ancients were right. With no other friendly face within 150 miles, it seems as if I have fallen off the edge of the Earth.

I spend my time now reading what books I have and cultivating my patch of cucumbers. The “purpose” of this fort, to hold back the Indians, has fallen away with my civilized veneer.

May 7, 1863 — This morning I had an interesting and silent encounter. One of the tribe of Indians nearby watched me perform my morning tasks and then left without a word. I am excited by the prospect of contact with the natives of the area.

May 20, 1863 — I have finally convinced the Indians to parlay with me. I taught them the word for “fort”, feeling that it would be simple enough for them to learn. They in turn taught me the Indian word “titonka”, apparently a small but tough, powerfully merchandised horseless carriage of metal construction. I envy these people their simplicity.

June 7, 1863 — Today I visited the Indians’ village. It is on one of the many flat-topped plateaus in the area. As the decline of the buffalo proceeds, so too does this Indian tribe face decline. I will try to teach them agriculture. They have also told me their name for themselves. It is “Anasazi”… which apparently means “people called Anasazi” in their language. I am called by them “Stinchapecsal” which means “he who should bathe more regularly”.

July 8, 1863 — A rude awakening. The Indians are fully aware of agriculture and in fact have nothing to do with the buffalo (what kind of nomadic tribe would build a village on a mesa?); unfortunately, they are suffering a drought.

Knowing a remedy, I have told them to dig a ditch from the nearby stream up the mountainside to their mesa-top fields. In the meantime, I am pickling my cucumbers.

July 20, 1863 — The drought is desperate, but the ditch is finished and my pickles are ready. I am lining the ditch with pickles. The Anasazi are doubtful, but I have promised them results in the morning.

July 21, 1863 — Success! The stream has been diverted and now flows up the mountainside to the Anasazi fields. Amazed by this seeming magic, I told them that it was simply a well-known fact in my world. After all, everyone knows that “dill waters run steep”.

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