Somebody who thinks it their right to take whatever they want has stolen the head of my yard Quan Yin. It was an unopened geode that has been there a quarter century. It comes up missing from time to time. I bird will stand on it. When the bird flies, the geode rolls to the ground. It is never more than three feet from the base. This time, I have searched until I can't search any more. It happened Memorial weekend Saturday while I was gone several hours. I've had a No Hunting sign stolen off the woodshed a few weeks ago. It has been there the entire time. People who visit the waterfall, park their cars across the road from the house and take the path beside the creek. It has come to a place when I'm not home during the weekend, I look to see what's missing when I get home. This is the last weekend I will have the problem. This coming week, a chain will be stretched across the entrance to the path and a No Trespassing sign will decorate the tree trunk the chain connects to. I'll put a Keep Out sign by the road in front of the house. Hand paint the signs. Make them look like they have an ignernt hillbilly behind them with three teeth and a double-barrel shotgun. I've been sweet about the trespass long enough that it's time to turn on sour.
I like the saying, No good deed goes unpunished. It's such a universal truth, I imagine Confucius might have addressed the issue. I took it for cynical first time I heard it. Time went by and I noticed it can be counted on. Makes me question what "good deed" actually means. Seems like it would be the other way around, like good deeds would be rewarded. I wonder if the good deed that gets punished is perhaps an egoic deed, called good because it feels good to the ego. Chalk one up for a false idea of selflessness. I didn't think it was an egoic decision to allow people wanting to go to the waterfall to park here and walk over my land. It was not a selfless decision either. I thought it just practical, and generous. What it is telling me, more than anything, is a change in attitudes of the young. It would have been a teenage boy doing the stealing. Looking for something to take. A gesture to impress whoever he's with, other guys or a girl. It's like that deal in school we all hated when one person in the class overstepped a boundary, the whole class lost a privelege. I'd be charged with profiling to put up a sign saying, no teenage white boys. I know no other way. I've closed it down before, as a result of abuse, and let it go some years later. Too bad. I won't be lifting the ban in my lifetime, and it will continue long after I'm gone. Suburbanites from cities, who work in offices, don't need to be walking in these woods. A bear outruns somebody, who sees him or herself on a National Geographic channel nature show, and I get sued for allowing them on my property. It's over.
There was a time I advised people who parked here of the bears, coyotes and wolves that are new to these woods. They all laughed at me. Standup comic not my ambition, I don't take kindly to being laughed at. Watching them walk away, I'd think, Fuck ya, yer on yer own. A chain and a sign will clear me in court if somebody does something stupid. Allowing public access has not been entirely objectionable. Have spoken with some interesting and pleasant people. One time I fell into an awkward situation that caught me. Came home from someplace and a whole family was parked and standing around a massive SUV. They were waiting for next carload. We spoke. The man, grandpa, close to my age, a peer, dressed like an LL Bean model, wanted to talk, told me he was from High Meadows Country Club. It came up I was from KC and he used to play football for the Kansas City Chiefs, told me his name. My tire went flat. In his bearing and tone of voice, I could see he was counting on me to be impressed, ask him to sign my tshirt. I didn't jump to attention when he mentioned the country club, earlier. It wasn't a good day for him. The only thing that could have impressed me less would have been for him to say he was a Marine. I didn't know what to say. I said, "I haven't watched television since 1965," instead of, I don't give a shit about football. I became a bewilderment to him, and he was already boring to me. Fortunately, the next SUV drove up to free us from the awkward space we'd stepped into.
Another time, I came home from someplace and parked. Another LL Bean model driving a gold Jeep Cherokee with gold trim. He introduced himself from Winston-Salem. He aimed to buy my house. I laughed, thinking, this isn't going anyplace. Told him it's not for sale. He told me, "Everything is for sale." I said, "Not necessarily." He told me there is a price I would take for it. I told him he doesn't have enough money. He told me I don't know that. I told him I do know that, nobody has enough money, not even Warren Buffet. I don't want money. The house is what I want and it's mine. I have a way of being final that I'm not aware of, but have been told by a few friends that it really shows when I'm done. He said he'd be in touch. I said, "Whatever," and came to the house. Never heard from him. His arrogance annoyed the hell out of me. My friend Jean has said of my characteristic, "When his face turns red, it's time to look out." I finally understood why people back off when I want them to, without saying anything. I thought maybe they were psychic. Makes me laugh to think of how obviously my feelings show in ways I'm not aware of. I'll let this be the last weekend of waterfall visits. Next weekend it will be off limits. No more awkward experiences with people I never wanted to meet. I don't live on a back road in the mountains because I want a bunch of suburbanites at my door on weekends and disrespecting my land thinking they're on tv. Several other ways to get to the waterfalls can be found easily by anyone clever enough to figure it out.
photos by tj worthington