Last week, while some Oregon legislators were resisting the cyanide pill of a “climate bill” — whose only certain result will be the destruction of of good jobs for mostly rural Oregonians — I bombed south through the desert to pick up a new horse for training. A two- year-old chestnut with brains and breeding, I’m honored to get this filly started for her owners.

I loaded her early the next morning, serenaded by eager meadowlarks in the sagebrush and sprinklers ticking in the alfalfa.  As we pulled out of the ranch there was a fine herd of pronghorn grazing their way into a field of rye.  Farther down the road a family of Mennonite men were working feverishly on some project in a wheat field.  

The Mennonites bought their ranch from a family who arrived a few years before. That family was new to the desert, refugees from the sprawling disaster south of the I-80, full of world-saving ideas, and their first act of salvation was to dry lot a herd of bison in a weed patch and sell the meat as “grass-fed, free-range” bison.  They were dirt patch bison fed from round bales, to be certain, but the episode is a useful reminder that marketing meat as “free range” and “grass fed” ranks right up there with the genius of the “light-beer” fraud.

The Mennonites planted wheat under a pivot and turned the desert green.

The bison follies remind me of a guy I knew in the Black Rock who lit range fires because he dreamed of bringing the bison back.  Bison have been gone for 10,000 years from that part of the world, but he was adamant.  Joe lived on a mining claim in the Calico Range, and was often seen wandering around the desert naked with a plastic jug full of water.  He had some other ideas that stretched plausibility, but it was a bigger country then, and that sort of eccentricity was generally left alone to solve itself.   

At any rate, some summer mornings are so bright and easy and vibrant with life one can almost forget about the looming and mostly ignored cataclysm of our national debt, crazy Ayatollahs, or the endless parade of homegrown blatherskites who show up in our news feeds twisted into bizarre political contortions.  

Pandering requires endurance, it turns out, and today’s politicians can hold those poses, with a pearly white smile, just as long as it takes to con you into voting for them.  

But high-balling through the desert with a horse serves as a fine antidote.  While mesmerized by the swirl of birds following a swather through a field, dive-bombing for gophers, mice, and snakes, I could almost dismiss the weird new promise of reparation payments for people who were never slaves, by people who never owned them.  

And I could almost forget the strange notion of laws that require virtually no sacrifice on the part of the people who write them, but demand severe concessions from everyone else.

Reparations will no doubt remain under consideration for as long as it takes to conduct yet another endlessly disputed election, which will no doubt result in dozens of disputed investigations, followed by the requisite round of investigations into the investigations.  

And no one should be surprised when the evidence from the bait-ball of investigations gets sealed by nervous judges until the year 2150 — when we will all be dead and the world, if it’s still here, will no doubt have been drum-circled and 5G’d into perfect Homo-Sapien harmony.

Blasting north through the Madeline Plains, my mind kept running to the sad legacy of Holden Dick, a Modoc Indian who was prised from a Lassen County jail cell in the winter of 1886 by an angry mob and lynched, along with his cellmate, in the woodshed next to the courthouse. No one was ever arrested or charged for the lynching, and no one ever found the stash of gold Dick had been living on after robbing a freight wagon rolling out of the Warner Mountains.  

One suspects the lynching wasn’t really rough justice for a murdered teamster, but instead a concentrated effort to torture Dick into revealing the whereabouts of the stolen gold.  Human nature being what it is, that story seems more likely, and it was out there, in the long, brushy reaches of the Madeline Plains, that Sheriff CC Rachford rode Dick down and slapped him in irons.  

Forgive my suspicious nature, but “climate” bills carry the same stink as Dick’s lynching.  From at least one angle they look a lot more like socialist redistribution than a legitimate plan to “save” our planet, our bluish orb that has somehow managed to survive the last 4.5 billion years without the feel-good fantasy of “carbon credits”.  

It’s likely that the best vaccine against climate change is to stop stacking so many mouths in the same feed trough, but that idea never seems to get much traction.  

Out on the desert, I kept the hammer down through Lakeview and Paisley, thinking over my plans for that beautiful filly riding in the back, and remembering a rumor – not without evidence—that Holden Dick had a map leading to his buried loot.  Word is, he gave that map to his defense attorneys shortly before meeting his sad destiny in the woodshed.  

The lawyers, naturally, denied it.