a couple of hours later, the fall had deepenedrnto eight. We broke trail for 20 milesrnin four-wheel-drive, past groves of aspenrnwhitened by the flying snow and standingrnpale against the black timber, the willowsrnalready turned spring orange in the floodplain,rnand arrived after an hour or so atrncivilization, where the storm was expectedrnto make a four-day blow and drop twornto three feet of snow in the mountains.rnAfter two winters of southern New Mexico’srndrought and duststorms, I felt like arnman on all fours discovering a lake ofrnchilled dry martinis in the SonoranrnDesert.rnA couple of weeks later, still in searchrnof cold weather and even, possibly, morernsnow, I left Las Cruces bound for a rendezvousrnin Reserve, New Mexico, withrnTom Sheeley on his way east fromrnFlagstaff. One radio station after the otherrnfaded away and died from Las Crucesrnto Deming, Deming to Hurley, Hurley tornBayard, Bayard to Silver City, while thernpowerfid voice of Government pursuedrnrelentlessly, undimmed by distance andrntopography: National Parrot Radio, usefulrnfor entertaining the residents of myrndomestic bird sanctuary while I work allrnday behind closed doors, and for monitoringrnthe federal psyche, its peculiarrnobsessions and neuroses. Today my diagnosisrnis as usual: blacks on the brain,rnwomen up the wazoo, combined with arnhypocritical concern for the Kosovarrnrefugees. As usual, the announcers offeird:rnthose effete, affected, epicene voicesrnfrom nowhere, every trace of regionalrnor social identity removed by a process ofrnsterilizing Posturalization, the tonalrnequivalent of the genetic blending thatrngave us Tiger Woods. The trouble withrnthe modern world is it does not offer, letrnalone depend on, the kind of work thatrnproduces real irren, genuine, honest-to-rnGod women.rnAt Bill’s Bar in Reserve (couirty seat ofrnrambunctious, rebellious Catron County,rnNew Mexico), patrons watched thernevening news broadcast from Denver,rnfeaturing the progress of the Yugoslavrnwar: “None of our business.” “Aboutrntime we learned to let people managerntheir own affairs without any so-calledrnhelp from us.” A tall man in a black Stetsonrnhat and purple shirt, carrying a knifernon his belt, came through the door andrnsauntered up to the bar. “Hello, Mr. ForestrnService Man,” the barmaid greetedrnhim. “How nice of you to pay us a visitrnthis afternoon.” Only several years ago,rnthe NFS was warning its people againstrndriving the distinctive green agencyrntrucks in Catron County —and otherrnWestern rural communities.rnWhen Tom arrived we drank a couplernof beers and headed north into the GallornMountains. Hurrying to make camp beforernsundown, we followed the dirt roadrnonly a few miles before stopping beneathrntall ponderosas overlooking a meadow ofrnbuff-colored winter grass broken withrnbars and reefs of gray sagebrush, overlookedrnby dark, pine-forested mountainsrnbeyond. While I built a fire, Tom preparedrnthe meal of spicy fresh chorizornfrom his Flagstaff butcher, mixed withrnbeans and chopped onions and rolled inrnflour tortillas browned in the dutch ovenrnlid, and we made an early supper of burritos,rnnot forgetting plenty of red winernand part of a fifth of Jim Beam, afterwardrnaround the campfire while a cold windrnarose and the temperature fell like an icernmeteor. We turned in when the first bigrnlog burned through and slept until afterrndawn to find the water in the canteensrnand plastic bladders frozen solid.rnFor breakfast there were cheesernomelets with chili con carne and espresso;rnafterward we brought out foldingrnstools and the guitar and sat facing intornthe April sim toward the mountainsrnwhile Tom played Segovia, Ponce, andrnMoreno-Torroba: three Spanish composers,rnhe reminded me, who lived to bernnearly a hundred on wine, good food,rnbooks, music, adventure, love, and goodrnhumor.rn”Unlike the progressive political typesrnwith no sense of humor, no enjoyment ofrnlife, sour—hate everything while takingrnthemselves so damn seriously.”rn”And ‘conservatives’ —they don’t carernenough about art, take it seriouslyrnenough, to bother even politicizing it.rnMostiy because it isn’t the way to gloryrnand POWER, the aphrodisiac of the intellectuals.”rn”Anyway, what’s important is to knowrnwhat’s good in life and follow it: books,rnmusic, wine, wilderness, the love of arngood woman, food. And let the worldrntake care of itself”rn”Which isn’t the same thing as quiescence,rnor what the left calls ‘apathy’ —justrnthe recognition that every man’s job isn’trnto change the world, just brighten his cornerrnof it, as they say. ‘Love your neighbor.’rnWliile remembering that in anotherrnsense you can’t ‘love’ people andrnplaces you don’t know, beginning withrnthat luscious stranger in hiking shortsrnshouldering her pack at the trailhead.”rn”Where?”rn”Nowhere,” I said. “She’s hypothetical.”rnWe struck camp after noon and movedrnit to the highlands between Agua Friarnand Largo Creeks: brushy mountains fullrnof alligator juniper and several species ofrnpine tree. Here we built a raging firernagainst the cold and the dying of thernlight, etc., while playing rude songs byrnFrank Zappa on the truck sound system.rn”What’s the most non-native speciesrnyou can think of?” I asked him.rn”I don’t know. The National Parkrnpigs?”rn”I was thinking maybe Republicans.”rnWe devoured a couple of 14-ouncernNew York steaks with bearnaise sauce,rnbaked potatoes, and a salad, and Irnbrought out the second magnum of redrnwine. Evening birdsong faded into therncoming night; the wind died; the firernroared; the wine flowed.rn”This is pretty nice,” I said.rn”There’s really nothing more to life, isrnthere? Anyway, there doesn’t have to be.”rnThe night warmed around threerno’clock, and by morning, with birdsongrnsounding again from the fading darknessrnand the ravens flapping overhead onrntheir greasy black wings, mare’s tails hadrnappeared in the sky with a change ofrnweather coming. We packed the camprnin while the ravens wheeled in loweringrncircles above, their bright eyes fixed onrnthe moveable — already moving—feastrnbelow. Tom brought the camp garbagernbag and shook the gristly remains of thernsteaks onto a flat rock.rn”Leave something for Raoul always,”rnhe explained.rnFor the 250 miles back to Las Cruces,rnthe news was all about bombing,rnrefugees, the Allies’ terms, civilian casualties,rn300 new planes, Apache helicopters,rn30,000 reservists. . . . “Only Anglo-rnSaxons can govern themselves,”rnWilliam Allen White wrote. And now,rnnot even we—too multiculhiralized, perhaps.rnWhat is there to be said for a politicalrnsystem where the leading candidatesrnfor the next national election are thernspouses and siblings of the most failedrnand incompetent national politicians?rnAs if, in Mencken’s words, a starving manrnset before a lavish banquet should satisfyrnhis hunger by catching and eating flies.rnA mass-produced and self-stupefied people,rnwe Americans. Fortunately, there isrnstill something remaining of non-humanrnAmerica to enjoy.rn50/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn