Coming through the woods, down a soft winding track, two minutes shy of the time we have been instructed to arrive, 10 a.m. on a bright Sunday morning, we see the man already there in the clearing, his right hand on the dog’s collar. Two minutes later, you feel, and he’d be gone. But this is the right person, undoubtedly, the one we have come to see. In a solid, heavy, hired car, a Chevrolet Impala, we have driven down the coast, on 101, from Seattle to Eureka, where a mudslide after weeks of rain diverted us over the mountains to Red Bluff, and on to goldmining country, Nevada City and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The man in the clearing, thin silver hair lit from behind, long blue work shirt over pink, is lean, of modest height, and steady as a post. The dog is more enthusiastic, a superior hillbilly poodle. It bounds forward to lick the passenger window, avid for society. As the man is not: he can take it when it comes, assess a situation, shape unshapely events to a predetermined programme and deliver what’s required, before returning to his proper business, a measured life in a portion of territory he has made his own.
LRB 24 May 2012 | PDF Download