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The Supersuckers are coming to central Oregon and will be playing live in the streets of downtown Bend this Saturday. You know you want to go.

Em experiences the world through her mouth. Walking around with her means regularly telling her to drop cigarette butts, bits of metal, pen caps, scraps of paper, empty soft drink cups and quarts of oil, plastic bags, duct tape, used bubble gum. The list goes on; even in designated wilderness areas the trash she picks up is endless. I should train her to drop it into the garbage bag I’ve started sticking in my pocket before we walk out the door.

My new rule is if it’s organic, like the dead mouse stiffened in rigor mortis that she found yesterday, she can keep it.* But man-made finds are mine. This arrangement has led us to periodic bouts of throat diving. Today this arrangement led us to me reaching halfway down her throat after an 8-inch square of bubble wrap that popped as she tried to swallow.

*Within reason. Poop is out, as are slugs. Carrion is an ongoing struggle.

Lauren Parker and Claire Rogan. McKenzie River, Oregon.

My favorite creek is sick. Probably dying. The fish in it sure are. A new phase of an old irrigation project has resulted in declines in flow greater than 50% in the last two weeks. Bad news when it’s the end of September and there isn’t much in the channel to begin.

Walking the banks, I don’t have the heart to cast and I think I should be carrying a bucket rather than a rod so that I might perform random acts of relocation for the frantic trout darting across the shallows.

At the construction site where once the creek tumbled over an old spill way, a black pipe projects. Bulldozers, wire binding, a half-full teal-blue five-gallon bucket of hydraulic fluid with the lid off, fast food wrappers, and one rubber coated work glove have replaced the thickets of alder and Ponderosa saplings that a month ago shaded the banks and cooled the water.

I’m not a Hayduke, but today I believe I may be a Bonnie.

*Bonnie Abbzug is the female protagonist in Edward Abbey’s, The Monkeywrench Gang.” She was known for riding her bicycle long distances through the desert and dismantling bulldozers.

I had a proposal to write today. So. I gutted the green house and tore down the south facing wall. Laid insulation in the floor of the new studio. Split and stacked half a cord of gnarled, mean juniper. Ran. Cooked dinner. Read. Sent a handful of emails.

I love writing. I love the stories and the language. The words. But the desk is hard. The blank page stares back, teeth showing. This is the work.

She chases grasshoppers, but instead of running after them as her physiology would recommend, she follows their jumps with her own short bounds. Someone looking into the meadow from the road above might think her a tiny deer erupting out of the grasses like a child’s Jack-in-the-Box. Or perhaps they’d think her a rabbit. A conejita racing for her life, a fox hot on her heels. But no. She is just Em chasing hoppers toward the creek where waiting trout have the last laugh in the ripe golden sun of the first day of fall.


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