by forrest fenn
Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian.
About forty-years ago, maybe more, an old Basque sheep herder came to me wanting to sell an awkward looking Alibates arrowhead. It was worth about five bucks so when he said he wanted fifteen, I bought it. I couldn’t guess how old the man was but his face looked like he’d slept on it for a long time.
“Where’d you find that point,” I asked.
“I donno, wherever I went, there I was,” or words similar.
He had a fun way so we sat down. He pulled a folded half-sheet of newspaper from his back pocket, tore off a small square and rolled a cigarette. The “tobacco”, looked like cedar bark. Then, to my amazement, he struck an iron strike-a-light against a piece of flint, which caused a spark that lit his smoke. And he did it with one hand. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I have a collection of fire starters and have used them at mountain man rendezvous, but would never have thought what he did was possible.
Several cigarettes later the sheep herder rested his hat on the bench next to me. I picked it up. It was homemade from very thick, hand tanned hide, probably buffalo, and was maybe a hundred years old. He could see I liked it, and smiled to reveal an interesting tooth-lacking dental pattern.
“It’ll break a fall,” he grinned, and pointed to the bullet hole near the hat’s forehead. “Got that one moonlit night when Anabella’s husband showed up unexpectedly. Unreasonable man, he was,” and the sheep man’s expression said that it was a proud failing. It didn’t take much for me to know that both the hat and the Basque had been molded in rude elements.
“How much you want for this old beat up hat,” I asked.
“No, No, with its history of saving my life a million dollars wouldn’t buy that thing.”
“I’ll give you three hundred bucks?”
“My God, sir, you sure bought a great hat.”