Monday, July 06, 2020


A wild thing has happened. Many of you know me as a musician; I was a banjo picker for many years and then had a shorter but intense run as a fiddler; I was even a Texas fiddler, which was awesome. I played music I loved and had good friends to play it with.

Then circumstances led me to move to the Sacramento mountains of southern New Mexico, where I live now. Life was actually lucky to me, my wife and the last four of my ten children, because just as we moved way out to the end of a mountain road, up against the national forest and not far from the Apache reservation, this whole covid thing hit and being way out here in the mountains was just the best place to be.

But here's the rub: something happened in my inner ear. It felt like tiny tubes got plugged up by allergy-generated fluid of some kind. I don't feel like I've lost my hearing, exactly, so much as I feel like a lot of what I hear is coming through water, and is therefore not that clear. I have trouble getting exactly what people say. And I no longer enjoy music. It sounds like it's coming through water.

Now when you have ten children, there are some advantages to deafness, especially since my wife is still under a lot of pressure and has been for a little too long. Under this pressure she's sometimes on me for this or that and here's the heck of it: the last two, both girls, like to hum and sing, often in the car. Now I've also come to the point where I hate to just rag them, though I could. But ironically, of all the things I should hear, like directions, or where to put something, instead I hear that humming very well and miss a lot of other things.

All this means that I don't really believe I'm deaf. I may have lost quite a bit, yes, but I feel like if I come down from the mountains, or just shed me a few kids, I would get it back. Now this covid stuff has it so we are all isolating out here, me and my wife and the four kids, and the isolation is getting to us a little, especially the kids, who don't cotton to isolation all that much, though they at least have each other. There are elk bugling out here, and various other sounds, lots of birds, even deer and turkeys. I hear some of it. I hear guns and oddly enough I like the sound; that's the one thing that doesn't sound distorted, and I've never felt anyone was shooting close enough to even vaguely be a problem. Lots of hunters around here, and they take their guns out and practice, is all.

What I'm saying is, if I could trade these mountains for my complete hearing, I'm not sure I'd do it. I've got the pine smells, the cool summer air, the fresh breeze - and, even though I had a great time in Texas, playing music and all, Texas is a world away now - in many ways. We're just not in a hurry to go back.


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