We Did Not Burn the Landowner After All

Jack o' Lantern depicting the Gunpowder Plot. Stacked barrels on the left, arches over head, Guy Fawkes with a torch at right—carved by the neighbors' daughter, an architecture student.

There is an Anglo-American couple (her from the UK, him from right here) down the road who always have a Bonfire Night party.

M. and I bumped into the American half recently, and he said that this year’s “Guy” would be a certain wealthy local hobby-rancher.

Having earned his money elsewhere, this guy is busy buying up every piece of vacant land he can find, erecting pretentious ranch gates, quarreling with the Forest Service, and possibly interfering with water rights (still unproved, but if so, it’s a hanging offense).

Unlike the actual largest landowner in this end of the county — who might be found on a mechanic’s creeper underneath one of the engines at the volunteer fire department, fixing something — he holds himself aloof from all community activities.

He has a bad case of “Texas Vertigo”—he thinks the world revolves around him. And, says the woman who waited tables down at the little steakhouse while working on her nursing degree, “He’s a two-dollar tipper.”

“All right,” I thought, on hearing my neighbor’s announcement, “it’s a real Aradia moment. Di legare il spirito del oppresore and all that.

Not the neighboring landowner but a cable TV talker.

But when M. and I walked up the neighbors’ driveway, dish in hand, to where everyone gathered around the fire pit, beer kegs, and tables of food, the “Guy” was someone else—a certain cable television political pundit.

Not nearly as interesting from a folk-magic perspective, if you ask me.

Burn! Burn!

It is still an emotionally satisfying conclusion.

3 thoughts on “We Did Not Burn the Landowner After All

  1. For my own peace of heart and mind, I stay back from taking part in stuff–folk magic or mob simultaneity–like burning folks and beings and things in effigy. Maybe I want changes, sure, but I do my best to take up other magic routes to those changes.

    Let me add that I know that mob thing first hand. Once overtaken by school spirit and fan enthusiasm and being in a stadium crown upwards of 70,000 mostly falling into simultaneity, I chanted for a member of my school’s football team to kill the opponent’s whoever he could, but primarily their quarterback. It’s a oneness that can rattle you later, lemme tell ya!

    • If, and I repeat, if, he is taking water to which he is not entitled, then mob action might be condoned. Or a magical binding.

      People from wetter climates may not understand just how serious I am.

      • Yes — a most egregious act if it is true. Being from an arid state next door, I agree. (He is stealing for a *hobby* ranch?!? Seriously?)

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