Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I like milk and when I was a child I drank it frequently, let’s say five to seven times a day, not one of those little cartons that they gave you at school, a so-called half-pint, but large glasses, twelve, fifteen ounces, I downed it in one shot, I remember I thought I had speed, real milk-drinking speed, but then this kid came to school, Mike from Alaska, and he was the fastest milk-drinker anyone had ever seen, he could take down a so-called half-pint in less than two seconds, somebody had a stopwatch and we timed him.

Well, I’d like to know something about this recollection, let’s say I’m intrigued by milk itself, milk history, or that name, Mike, how he got to my school from Alaska. I think his father worked the pipeline and then those jobs dried up and they came down seeking some last logging job until that dried up too, all the forests cut except the one or two somebody decided might make for decent hunting and fishing now and again, probably the same logging execs grown fat off all the other forests they carved up.

I’m trying to localize myself here, not because I think you ought to know anything about Sams Valley, Oregon, it’s not on most maps, there’s no post office, no center of town, I wouldn’t even recommend visiting, there’s no water, the crops go dry, you see people buying five hundred gallon tanks and filling them up in some other town from spring to fall, trucking water to manufactured homes set down in the middle of half-dead alfalfa and dirt and star thistle, a nasty imported Australian weed that thrives in Sams Valley, so don’t bother remembering Sams Valley but watch out for star thistle, you can’t pull it up without gloves on and if you want to get rid of it you must burn the plant, roots, seeds and all, every one of them.

And that’s what people in Sams Valley do if they still want to grow something other than star thistle. What I understand of this town that’s not a town, though if you go there and ask a local where they live they’ll say Sams Valley, at any rate, what I want to make of this non-town I think I get from Olson.

The non-town called Sams Valley’s what history is, history as Olson does it, it’s where somebody starts mapping, and what Olson says is go map it, whatever you can do to lay hold of that earth, not like a landowner or colonialist or motherfucking real estate agent (in fact, you’re lucky if one of these types isn’t already pointing a shotgun or shaking a document at you telling you to buzz the fuck off), go dig your star thistle and burn your seeds, try to dig up those transcontinental weeds until you’ve figured out how the hell your field became star thistle and your manufactured home got plunked down amidst alfalfa and dirt fields.

Good luck.

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