The Great Tumbleweed in the Sky

There is a legend that began to grow across the West’s wind-rolling desert hills—as hostile as they are to life. The legend may be a cooperative work of fate as the old cowboys accepted the death of their Old West and the Native tribes accepted the death of so many things. In some ways, the Native people may have been looking for a way to last forever, if not as a people then as a culture in their tales. They, the cowboys and natives each, slowly moved inside, to the towns, and met in the saloons. Some historians believe that throughout America’s Southwest, cowboys and Natives alike began to scorn cheap forms of entertainment like poker and shootouts (though not necessarily brothels) and came together over drinks to mingle cultures. It is probably in a great many saloon this legend began to take shape in much the same way the central figure of this story, the Great Tumbleweed, does: bit by bit, layer by layer and slowly, slowly…

In the beginning, there was only the Wind roaming across the Earth. The Wind was adventuresome, but lazy. He would blow and blow and then, for the fun of it keep blowing. He carved great shapes into the Earth’s sides: A large rock hollowed out in the middle poking up from the ground like a half-eaten doughnut, a sanded staircase that led to a perfectly hollowed arena. All of the Wind’s blowing left gorgeous designs but, to be honest, He got a little bored.

One night, He lay resting on the cinnamon brown sand when above him appeared a childlike bramble. It was the Tumbleweed, round with thick bushy hair. And it was, rather to the Wind’s astonishment, His child with the Earth. Well, He guessed He should show the tyke around and so He led the Tumbleweed around the world many, many times. The Tumbleweed grew and grew, picking up thicket and picking up speed. He was growing adventurous like his Dad, hopping from the ground and reaching up from his Mother, but she was always sure to bring him back down.

That Tumbleweed was growing speed every year, boy, but he was always sure to visit Mom at the end of December (probably Christmas, though records conflict as to the date). However, the Tumbleweed began to scheme and scheme his escape and after a few failures that involve long plummets into the Grand Canyon and untold bets with Mom he never really could win, he waited for the cover of a sandstorm to pick up enough speed to leap from the Earth.

Now you can find that Great Tumbleweed in the Sky because he didn’t go far. Sometimes he turns his back to home to whisper to one of the distant lights in the sky, but every now and then you can see him give a great toothy grin to Mom and Dad and all the rest of us.

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