Sometime after I threw a softball five miles to the horizon and chased it down with Jackson the dog ... after he and I fought dragons in the tall grass and swam through the brave o'erhanging firmament ... Babbs announced that he was going to "fetch a pond." This was not an auditory hallucination, I told myself, he really did say "fetch a pond." So I assumed it was some Northwestern euphemism for "take a leak."
Until he started building an actual pond:
We all started using the word "ranch" to describe the modest plot of Eugene countryside where Ken Babbs lives. There are no livestock, but Babbs does seem to be harvesting* psychedelic mirth. Every corner of the place has some gonzo twist to it:
He even had tie-dyed toilet paper, god bless him.
Toward the end of our run in Portland, we noticed a cruel trend in the weather: we had two-show days when it was bright and sunny and gray drizzle for our free time. That last Monday off with Kenny Babbs redeemed them all:
His house is a hand-made collection of rooms that seem to sprout from its center hearth with an improvisational, range-of-the-moment floorplan. Every room feels like a three-sided protrusion from the main. And every room is a story.
Don't stare at those lawn chairs for too long. They don't anchor the magic dream balloon as well as the strawberry army. Wait ... what was I supposed to be worried about today?
PJ Sosko just realized something: the word "sisyphus" sounds as silly as his quest. For a good two hours, this was the funniest thought in the universe.That's my girl!
That's ... my girl?
Babbs and Jenna collaborated on the spaghetti sauce as we waited for his wife, Eileen, to come home. She teaches Sometimes a Great Notion every year in her A.P. English classes -- like Aaron Posner, she can recite chapter and verse. We were extremely gratified to hear that she liked everything about our show except the ticket price.
What do you bring back from a prankster pilgrimage? Not too much, or you'll spoil the joke, I think.
*harvest Please don't read too much into that. I mean, of course, his thoughts.