THIS IS MAC---A REAL COWBOY
And his dog--a blue heeler I think--that he has trained to turn around and lean against him for affection.
Twenty three years ago I was camping alone in the desert west of Yuma, Arizona.
It was Christmas day. This Cowboy walked up with a friendly howdy and invited me to Dinner. Thus began an enduring friendship nurtured from time to time by assorted adventures together.
Mac made a good living as a farrier (horse shoeing) bought a nice home and acreage
south of Spokane, Washington where he and his wife enjoyed many happy years.
I write about him because he has a rare quality of character that I much admire: HE MAKES HIS VISIONS REAL.---With a persistence I can only envy.
We recently connected in Yuma and he shared his new vision---now that his wife has passed on and so has his pack of 6 mules. In the past 2 years he has conceived an end-game vision I will share with you. He is 82 years old--- still beanpole skinny and very fit.
But first I will illustrate his vision and character via a poem I wrote about him 15 years ago.
Cleaned up a Square Mile
got it in his head to clean up a whole square mile.
have to have seen it to appreciate
audacity of his intention.
thousand piles of trash littered this landscape,
desolate stretch of desert west of Yuma
east of Algodones dunes.
informal campground for a hundred years
folks escaping winter’s chill
call the area Sidewinder.
deserved its name!
through in yesteryears camped here
strength to cross the dunes in daylight,
across the perilous wood plank road.
was a less conscious time
they left their trash, broken bottles,
cans, oil cans, filters and more.
a standard grouping of trash:
tubes, cast off clothing, plastic bags and jugs.
day, six years ago, my friend Mac,
slender, spirited cowboy from the Northwest,
got it in his head to clean up the whole darn thing.
he began immediately, a pile at a time,
on his knees picking up every bit of broken glass
every piece of trash. He bagged it,
it to the dumpster and hurray!
pile of trash was gone. Then two!
a hundred by the end of camping season.
he returned next season he began again.
time, a hundred and fifty piles were cleaned.
his buddies would help
mostly Mac worked on alone.
have seen him scrabbling far out on the desert
the early morning hours.
long winters later our desert mile was clean
lovely in its desert way
every landscape has its beauty
every landscape can be marred.
noted as the trash was disappearing
better breed of campers came.
angry loners went away,
suppose in search of junked-up land
compatible with their inner state.
new folks build up friendly fires
attended in the night,
pot luck dinners, walk together,
favors, exchange information,
quietly together at sunset,
in tea and color from the sky
at Christmas decorate
one litters now.
consciousness has been lifted.
his wife and friends know who
permission, prompting, pay, or praise.
humbled by this awesome deed.
as if a man declared
drink a barrel of water
eat a buffalo,
would make Paul Bunyon proud.
by step, Mac made his vision real
persistence spanning years,
up a wasteland
make the desert bloom
than a whimsical deed;
blueprint for saving the earth.
is in my hall of heros
in the foremost ranks
his challenge came from within.
it fate or accident
his surname is McLean?
Mac's new vision is this: He is going to sell his place build a Movable BUNKHOUSE on skids to live in . Why a bunkhouse? Because he lived in bunkhouses during his cowboy days and wants to re-experience that ambience. He has a sizable collection of saddles, tack. bunks and cowboy paraphernalia to fill it with.
Why on skids?-----Aaah---for a very good reason: It allows one to avoid a host of complexities such as building permits---county oversight. (movable buildings are exempt he says) In short he wants to go off the radar of civilization. His many friends have agreed to haul his bunkhouse on a flatbed trailer wherever and whenever he wants a new location. All would welcome him on their land. I quizzed him about some details like sewer and water and power. He's got all the bases covered----in his mind. And given the above achievement do you doubt he will accomplish his vision?
If you would like to see Mac's cleaned-up desert---exit Interstate 8 at Sidewinder rd then go south to the long term visitor area. the desert--As far as you can see west and south of that service station was his project. And happily---IT IS STILL CLEAN.