Al Haley (and a Hole Lotta Money)

Oct. 15, 2006

Today we buried the money in the back yard.

My 8-year-old son had the garden trowel. I had the money inside a Zip-loc bag. Cole dug in the flowerbed where the West Texas clay was least hard. The money inside its plastic prison looked green and vulnerable as we shoveled crumbles of dirt over the face of Ulysses Grant. I placed a flat stone on top. This marker will help me find the money again, and it’s supposed to also keep squirrels from digging up the money and doing who knows what with it. Install a satellite dish in the mesquite tree and start watching 24/7 Chip and Dale cartoons? More likely they might gnaw the bills (the General Grant fifty, 2 twenties, a ten, and a bonus two-dollar bill). In a flash they could turn them into ribboned confetti, which though festive would not be a hoped for outcome of this project.

October 16, 2006

This morning it is raining. Heavily.

Rain is a big deal in arid West Texas. We go for weeks with the sky remaining an unblinking, uncompromised blue minus even a breath of clouds. The sun bakes the ground into cracks. The weeds turn crisp. To date we are one inch behind in the modest annual rainfall we normally expect of just over 20 inches.

But today’s rain is changing that. I listen to it drumming on the roof as I type this. I’m thinking about the money in the back yard. The rain is seeping past the stone, the surrounding mulch and it is beading up on the plastic in the darkness underground. The money, hopefully, remains dry even as the moisture sluices past it toward the deeper stores in the earth. Underground rivers and lakes lie at well appointed places beneath the surface of the land. The money I’ve placed in the ground is inert potential whereas the rain is liquid life. The rain is actively looking for a seed, a snarl of roots, a crust of mineral, a speck of dirt, a touch of warmth. With autumn upon us, it’s too late for this particular rain to bring green to the yellowing and browning land. It is, however, insurance for the spring when the farmers plant their wheat, cotton, and corn.

Tomorrow the sky will clear and the puddles will start to disappear. The rain will be gone, its effects not yet known or complete. So some day could be the case with the money, I think.

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