Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Greetings from Austin

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Or, as much as it can look like Christmas when you're standing on a mountainside outside of San Antonio trying to pound rebar into the gravel of a vacant lot that surely has golden arches in its future.
But that's the future. Now it's a Christmas tree lot, or, it will be when we get the rebar into the ground. It's one of fourteen we're setting up here in the Lone Star State - yep, Papa Noel is back in town. There's seven of us now, but that number will triple this weekend. Those of us who are here are living in an RV beside a huge green and white striped tent set in front of an abandoned school in someplace called Oak Hill on the south end of the Austin sprawl. We've strung a few hundred feet of electric lights in and around the tent, hammered old scraps of wood into corrals to hold up Christmas trees, banged a stand together to hold a cash register, and set up signs on the side of the highway. And we're doing that to thirteen other circus tents all within an eighty mile radius. But that's not all. The gypsy encampment is not complete until the phones lines get connected. That's when we break out the credit card machine, hook into the computers of the international financial system, and start talking directly to MasterCard.
It used to be a lot easier. It used to be you could park the Conestoga on the edge of town, sell your wares, peddle your services, steal a few chickens or kids, and then move on. After that, when Papa Noel first started Papa-ing, the vacant lots abounded. Old cow pastures, most of them, holding their own between the strip-malls and the subdivisions, some still with tumbleweeds. The tents were set up on green, green grass, trees grew along the edge of the highway, and the deer and the antelope ranged. But those nice grassy fields are getting harder to find. More and more, today's gypsies are forced to set up shop on commercially zoned fill, horrid piles of rocks mashed and compressed by bulldozers into something that one day must be firm enough to support a drive through lane. It's to be expected, I suppose. It comes as no surprise at all, but that doesn't make it any easier to get the tent stakes into the ground.


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