Time-Share in Jarbidge

Joe Crowley




Head north from Elko toward Mountain City,

then east at the Bruneau River turnoff,

gravel road now, pretty rough. Pass Prunty

Ranch, climb to Corn Creek Summit, climb

some more along the Bear Ridge Heights, drop

down to the valley floor and soon you’ll see

the town, white A-frame on the right,

honeymoon cottage in the rear, bunkhouse

at the water’s edge. They’re yours every year

for a weekend or a week.

 

 You’re  in Jarbidge, once among Nevada’s

mining meccas, population 2,000 in its hundred

year old heyday, maybe 120 by now, though

there are those who insist that number’s

up by ten. A small place either way, but full

of folklore, as old ore towns ought to be.

Home to the nation’s last stagecoach robbery,

they say, and first ever fingerprint used

as evidence in a court of law. There are archives,

historical displays, a jail of yore, a stage

from glory days, curtain fading, its proud

Venetian gondolier still prominent. And aging

stables, miners’ huts, idle brothels. Not far

away, remnants of the mine at Mission Creek,

tree carvings in Copper Canyon. On Main Street,

testament to an Indian past: the Tsawhawbitts

Bed and Breakfast.*

 

If you are members of the Great Basin Extreme

Croquet Society, staying at the A-frame, you bring

varied areas of expertise, also lore in mallets

with their French beginnings, in musicians given

much to strings, odd other instruments adding

to their wayward harmony, and lore in liquid form

as well: Vodka poured into mason jars atop chopped

rhubarb, placed in car trunks, bounced around

on bumpy roads, shaken thereby, never stirred,

pink next morning, mixed with lime and lemon peels,

served over ice in highball glasses

with a sprig of mint: the Rhubarb Martini.

This potent potion, believed to stimulate

croquet creativity, precedes, accompanies

and follows daylong competition on the lawn.

The rule is: there are no rules except for those

made up (and maybe soon abandoned) as play

proceeds. A mallet may be used as a cue,

its handle end the tip, the ground the table,

the wickets the pocket, the player horizontal

as he shoots. Or, given ample lung room,

he can blow a ball into an improved position.

Or, flexing muscles, blast it across the creek

and back again to get a better lie, or, even

more rewarding, one that’s worse.

 

When dinner’s over, jars now mostly

lightened of their delightful burden,

the Skullduggery Band, folklorists all,

commands attention – a mandolin, two

banjos, fiddle, guitar, washboard, couple

of cowbells, Jews’ harps too. They play,

march the grounds, their marching steps

and music showing signs of excess rhubarb,

as do their eyes, and so to bed. Next morning,

just for lore’s sake, special breakfast

at Tsawhawbitts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Tsawhawbitts was a mythical giant spirit encountered by early Shoshone settlers and reputed to dine on humans.