Losing The Last Of The Yankee (Book Exerpt)

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAFebruary, 21, 2010
Stephenson Ranch
Oscuro, New Mexico

Losing the Last of the Yankee

I am losing the last of the Yankee, out here on these dirt roads, bounding off along the mountain trails, traveling alone and taking risks my father never dared to. There are arroyos and wash outs, holes beside the roadway and soft patches of sand hidden beneath the flowing snowmelt and all are waiting to bog me down. I tore a mirror off of my truck today in just such a place while heading east through an arroyo where the road and the water run together, taking a turn with water half over the tire rims and having to make a quick choice. There is no stopping here once committed for the sand is wet and soft and the arroyo narrow. After the road enters the chasm there is no turning back and one must simply lie on the gas and go forward, never mind the dirt bank and the protruding roots of the cedars that cling up above. The truck leaped forward at my urging and as I traversed the rocky path through the creek bed, dodging the deeper holes, the mirror hit a branch and slammed back into the window, breaking the mirror but not the window glass even though it left a shadow of its shape in the process. Minutes later I drove out safely, back on solid ground.

I left New York 32 years ago and soon became a traveler of the roadways before I finally settled here in New Mexico after ten years on the road. Over the years I learned the language and the ways of the locals and how to build a fire yet it is only now that I have lost the last of that girl from the east. It seems I grow braver as I become older and the adventure is now as much a part of my spirit as is my very soul. I seek these distant places and I find myself at home here while thriving on the challenge and I am ever eager to go forward to some yet unexplored avenue. The faded roads beckon me forth as do the deep canyons and now I am there. Long ago I shunned the comforts of the conventional life, now I dream of being feral and never returning.

I am losing the last of the Yankee. I am no longer worried about being alone, even if on occasion I am lonely. My boots and leggings protect me from the cactus and the rocks and I am less fearful, though surely cautious, of the snakes. There is a shovel, a rock bar and a high lift jack in the back of my truck and I have used them all. I spend many of my days here in the distant hills and I am content, loath to even return to town. I wander in the wilderness, one as genuine as I had dreamt of as a child with civilization in reach but as distant as the highway I left behind me hours ago. It is sixty miles across this ranch on these windy dirt roads and if I drive fast enough I shall lose the last of the Yankee.

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