1. Become an audience;
2. Throw a party;
3. Give something away.
This morning we're marching our way to "church"
We pause briefly at the entrance to LOW road --showing signs to various organizations----LOW's (Loners on Wheels) ----Karma Kitchen and down at the bottom--(tiny red and black checkerboard thing) Our sign WINs (Wandering Individuals Network) The second lady in line is the Famous "Trish" Who leads caravans to wild and wonderful places--Alaska sometimes. She is worth a separate entry.
But I digress---We're on our way here. My Co-host Joanne has arranged a group interview of the Pastor about life at the Slabs.
And here we are---It was a Wowser. From a summer low population of about 50 to a winter high of about 500. Most surprising revelation: He speculates that many come here to die--older--broken--men mostly who just want to die anonymously and fade from sight (on the county's nickle)--not wishing to trouble their kids or relatives.
He introduces Dave---His assistant---and a Bible Scholar. Don't be misled by his appearance--he carries himself with dignity---speaks intelligently. The interview went so well that Joann declared on the spot that we would throw a party for all our new friends. The date was set.
Oh how I love to crank things up----so when I heard about a diminutive, mysterious, individual living in the bushes with a friendly mule, I resolved to find and invite them. Maybe they will come to the party. I find the place easily and approach warily.
And surprisingly---am received warmly--invited to photograph. It is a tiny girl/woman?--who tells me she has lived at the Slabs for years---then drove to Montana in search of a small Mule/companion/pet.
She lets me pet APPLEJACK. I introduce myself. She tells me she is known as "LITTLEBIT" or HALFPINT . I tell her about our party and ask if she will make a surprise entrance to thrill everyone.
She says "OK".
The group bicycles around this unique square mile looking for other interesting folks to invite.
The Day of the party. We prepare a pot luck for our guest.
They come---and eat---and talk with us. Our guitarist entertain. We sit down to eat, I have told them to expect a special guest. They wonder who. And Then---And then---
I welcome her invite her to come and dine.
And she does--Ambling through the silent awe her presence inspires --her chaps rustle with each step--spurs jangle--the hunting knife on her belt commands respect. She knows she is a quiet sensation. I sit and eat with her ---just a bit atwitter--trying not to say silly things. was surprised at her gentleness and openness.
Then I performed. Hard to resist a friendly audience. Quoted my signature poem "The Magic of Motion."
Then persuaded Lois---the preacher's wife--to sing for us--a very touching moment for us all. We learned that she has no friends in the conventional sense---her role as pastors wife isolates her. But we gave her a golden moment---with applause and request for an encore. She beamed with satisfaction and sang another----that she had written---about life at the slabs.
And to make good on my promise ---here's the famous walking cane that put really good shoes on a family of seven. (good story---hope to tell it next time when I wrap up our Slabs experiment)
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: Goal accomplished---We abandoned the spectator role---diving (carefully but clearly) into the lives of those around us. The experiment went eeriely well---in this most challenging environment. So satisfying--that I may just abandon bystander journalism altogether. I want to get personal with everyone in my orbit. (unless my "radar" beeps)
Already it's affected my approach to the guy living in a (literal) house of sticks. (an upcoming story)