A fine story deserves to start with a fine day. A fine summer day shared by two fast friends continuing a yearly ritual by spending that day being fast drunks, and sitting in the shade by what was once a docile creek, now raging with recent rains. And the creek this day had become a creek with a purpose, not the lazy slow fall of gravity pooling then bubbling over rocks, hosting the micro ripple of water-walking flies. Nope, this was a hungry, ranting rapid, burgeoning its banks, and splashing many feet high in the air, stripping mud, rocks, trees, grasses, and the helpless gentle creatures that had forgotten to be wary. It was a spectacle.
So it was that these two drunks sat in their chairs (enjoying nature doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable!), adding to a substantial pile of empty beer bottles, and reveling in their luck at having this drunken day hosted by such an unexpected display of nature. As the second drunk finished his current beer, the first drunk was reaching into the wet rocks and mud at the creek’s edge. As he lifted an odd piece of wood, twisted and soggy, he closed one eye for better focus and said to the second drunk, “It looks like it’s saying ‘This much’”, and the second drunk opened a beer.
“This much,” the first drunk repeated, this time louder, as the growl of racing water had drowned his comment the first time. The second drunk took a look and then held the broken root in his hand. He twirled it a bit, grunted a “huh”, and propped in between some rocks for them both to ponder from the comfort of their chairs in the shade on a fine summer day.
Indeed, this wood root, born in the damp darkness, looked like a gnarly, bony hand, finger and thumb held apart just a bit, as if making that “this much” gesture. After a few minutes, the first drunk finished his beer and the second drunk said, “Time”. The first drunk opened another beer and said, “What?”
“Time”, louder from Drunk Two, “This much time”. So they both sat and pondered. This much time. One more beer. A twisted root. A twisted tree root released from the underworld darkness where it had provided sustenance to its host standing tall in the light; and that host, now crashed into the death roil of relentless nature, has freed the root into that light, to be found by a human hand and kept as a reminder of human mortality and, perhaps, to be pondered as a symbol of the hidden roots that sustain him while he stands tall in the light.
“This is deep. We need to start a religion,” said Drunk One, “The Church of the Creek Mud Talisman.” “We could get rich…” said Drunk Two, “…or killed” he continued.
Right there the two drunks decided to start a new religion based on this odd piece of wood, now referred to as the Talisman, and the religion would be called The Church of the Creek Mud Talisman, and they would both get rich – or killed.
Now, being drunks, nothing much came of the religion idea but Drunk Two decided to take the Talisman back home and mount it on something so it could be properly pondered, perhaps standing on a table or countertop or fireplace mantle. This base had to be gnarly and funky, because the Talisman was gnarly and funky. He searched for wood, and found the right thing, burl of the buckeye tree, in grays and browns with strange spikes of sucker growth protruding and menacing like a warning that this comes from a place men fear to tread. The mounted Talisman, now complete with brass plaques, front and back, one reading “Live for the moment” and the other, “You only have this much time”, was a beauty and a mystery, perfect for ponderation. And it was pondered; but it still needed something. It needed some protection. It needed a box.
For the Creek Mud Talisman, this couldn’t be an ordinary box – it had to be funky and gnarly, so Drunk Two set about making one. He spent hours scouring through exotic woods, taking some home to cut and polish, returning to hunt hours more for the perfect next piece. And he cut and polished; then threw them away and cut and polished more, until he found the perfect pieces to complete the box; no, not the box, the ark, the Ark of the Talisman.
Over weeks and months it slowly took life; exotic Mexican zirocote and spalted maple dark with slashes of knot and bark, like the wound of a broadsword, bleeding sap and life. And then in summer, a year after the Talisman was wakened from its bed of mud and rocks, the ark finally came to life. And it was funky. It was gnarly. It was splendid. It was The Ark of the Creek Mud Talisman.
For more pictures of the Creek Mud Talisman, see the blog post, The Creek Mud Talisman