Sunday, August 4, 2013

A big event

DAY 42: Last night (Saturday evening) we attended what was clearly a big event for this area: the Demolition Derby which is part of the Lincoln County Fair. I had seen one demolition derby before in my lifetime. This one was a little different, in that the first few heats involved cars racing in a figure-eight: it was a lot more like bumper cars than pure demolition, though there were a lot of collisions. We left early because Max wanted to go home, but we understand from those who stayed to the end that the later heats involving pickup trucks were demolition pure and simple: trucks bashing into each other and the last one standing won. In the bleachers, it was standing room only, and it obviously was a huge event for the Star Valley. There was a little undertone of political theater too: the car that got the greatest roar of approval, and ultimately won the car heats ( much to everyone's delight)  had the word "Nobama" sprayed on the side.

We felt we were really slumming, but it it's own bizarre way it's sort of fun. I suppose it touches some deeply primal need vicariously to enjoy behavior that is normally forbidden. I know enough about the history of religion to know that primitive religions the world over included a festival - often at the New Year - in which all the usual rules were suspended for a day. Mircea Eliade, the great historian of religion, called it "the Myth of the Eternal Return." Civilization is temporarily "wiped clean" and you start over. But during that "wiped clean" phase, anything goes. Our culture's New Year's Eve celebrations and New Year's resolutions still have a vestige of that older ritual in them. Maybe there is an element of that in a Demolition Derby. There may also be an element of catharsis. The ancient Greeks believed that theater had a cathartic element that was essential for the successful continuation of society. Demolition Derbies are a form of theater. Maybe the impulse to smash things gets expressed vicariously and the roads are a bit safer as a result. Let's hope so.

Introducing the cars to the crowd

Running on the rim!

The winner! Battered but unbowed.

Another feature of the past couple of days was that Paul and Christian went kayaking on the Snake River. Susan dropped them off at the put-in spot, and then waited for them at the take-out a few miles downstream. Ellen and I went to an overlook for a Class 3 rapids inbetween,  called The Big Kahuna. We watched then come through, saw Paul's inflatable kayak get overturned in the rapids, watched him right it again, with Christian helping as he climbed back in. Before they came through, we saw a lot of others overturn as well, including some big rafts. It was almost another sort of demolition derby! I got a video of Paul capsizing:

And I got a nice shot of them resting after their ordeal and before they headed into the next rapids:

Catching a breather
One evening we had a lovely supper of chile and salad that Ellen had made (and cherries Susan and Christian brought), and it was the perfect temperature for eating on the back deck, which is shaded in the late afternoon. Gene and Claire, Christian and Susan, all joined Paul, Jenny, Ellen and myself, for a great meal (Max had eaten earlier and was upstairs playing in his room).

The buffet is ready

The group gathers: Claire and Gene on the left; Susan and Christian on the right; Paul has his back to the camera.

Paul and Christian help themselves

DAY 43: Sunday morning, Claire, Jenny and Max went for a little picnic on a nice spot on the Gray's River Road, and Max played in the stream. Paul and Christian went to a driving range and practiced golf swings. Ellen and Susan took the dogs for a walk and visited. I went to church at Star Valley United Church to say goodbye to pastor Steve Crittenden, who will be leaving in September for Twin Falls, ID. He shared with me the housing dilemma they face as a family. Neither the Star Valley church nor the Twin Falls Church has a parsonage, so they own a house at Star Valley Ranch, a nearby development, mostly retired folks (who form a large part of the congregation) but some younger families. He said that on their block, there are currently eight houses for sale! So, no likelihood of a quick sale. His wife and daughter will stay for at least part of the year to let their daughter finish high school. Steve will rent modest quarters in Twin Falls in the meantime. But it will be hard for them to relocate as a family until they can sell their home. He bemoaned the fact that churches have largely given up on parsonages.

My parents lived only in parsonages (my dad was a minister), and thus never built up any equity in a home, and when dad died, in 1957, they were living in the parsonage in Onawa, Iowa. My mother was penniless and homeless - she had to move out of the parsonage to make room for the new minister. She moved in with Shirley and me in the Dummerston parsonage. If they had owned a home, she would have had a place to live. It's a dilemma.

A couple of people at church said they wished I could come be their pastor when Steve leaves. I replied somewhat lightly that it would be a long commute! The next time we visit I may be asked to fill the pulpit, but it is also possible that by then they will have found an interim pastor.

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