A couple of weeks ago Sam Rushforth handed me his red hat. For you, he said.
That’s your favorite hat, I said.
Part of my ongoing attempt to keep you from looking like a total dork, he said.
Thank you, I said. Thank you, my friend.
A couple of days ago Sam sent this email:
Hey, Abbott. There is one person in the world I would give my red hat to — you! Do you love it? Do you wear it? If so, I am thrilled. If it is mediocre to you, I want the sumbich back! I am giving away some of my best things to just a few people — you included with a true gem. So love it or give it back!!!
I already have a new band of dried sweat on it…it’s a gem. There’s only one person in the world from whom I would accept a red hat. And you’re it.
Ok. You can keep the sumbich. I have moved on to the torn Cal Arts hat. Nan is gonna patch the hole with white cross-stitch so it will look swell! Sooo happy you like the red hat!
That Cal Arts hat was the one Sam was wearing when he had his great crash. If you’re interested in the whole story, read Sam’s and my book, Wild Rides & Wildflowers: Philosophy and Botany with Bikes. For more than a decade we rode our mountain bikes up and down the Great Western Trail, a section of the trail we called “Frank,” noting the changing flora and fauna and celebrating the ways our bikes got us into Nature day after day. There were plenty of falls and abundant, related profanity. We had a ball.
Today, I thought I would take Sam’s red hat that accompanied us on our bike rides on a walk. In honor of past events, I decided to call the hat Frank. Here some pictures from our walk:
Frank and I as we walked down the hill from our house in Woodland Hills, a barbed wire fence in the background. If you’re interested in barbed wire, read Lyn’s and my book The Perfect Fence: Untangling the Meanings of Barbed Wire.
We looked down from the canal road to the Salem Cemetery. Memento mori, Frank said.
How the crops get irrigated, I explained to Frank.
Bet this is where hamburgers are born, Frank said. Aren’t you a vegetarian? I asked Frank. Yes, he answered, and this is why.
This for my book on the metaphor of standing, I explained to Frank. Homo erectus in the Culture of Homo sapiens.
Frank, I said — ever the professor — this is a prime example of Veblen’s idea of conspicuous consumption.
Maybe we should start a church, Frank said, and only require 5% of people’s income. We could build better buildings, I bet.
Off road and halfway up a steep slope marked only by deer and elk trails, I apologized to Frank for the gathering sweat and asked him to pose on the remnants of a fallen fence. He’s an accommodating fellow.
We made it to the top of that stretch and I asked Frank if we could take a little break. I’m not used to breaks, walking with Sam, he said, but I can tell you’re a little winded, so okay.
Frank didn’t believe me when I told him I rode my bike to the top of that pointed peak with the microwave tower on the top. Twice. You and Sam are blood brothers, he said, when it comes to hyperbole. You know words like hyperbole? I exclaimed.
Santaquin Peak, I told Frank. Big wildfire there last September. That’s when Lyn and I and Bella were evacuated and came to stay with you and Cedar and Nancy and Sam.
Home again, Frank asked to dry on my old bike, claimed he remembered it from earlier rides on the Great Western.