Bob Estus - Tumbleweed Tales

Bob Estus is a video games graphics animator (shoot me if I got that wrong, Bob...), currently working with Sony Interactive Studios America in San Diego, CA. His XTC-related site, The Roundabout, is perhaps the most visually-stunnning and entertaining of all the XTC sites. A static example of his handiwork can also be found in Bungalow. Bob also happens to be a phenomenal punster. And a very good friend...

Tumbleweed Liberation Day

A few weeks ago, while preparing to take to the road for one last Christmas mall-quest, I noticed a strong cold wind blowing out of the southeast. This strange wind, being exactly opposite to the usual constant from the northwest, dislodged organic debris from shrubs and trees making a real mess of everything. This foreshadowing that "something" was astir.

Now on Highway 52, en route to the mall, gusts were tugging at the car. At first i didn't think much of it. Then several small tumbleweeds crossed our path, the last one was trapped underneath the car for a few seconds before disintegrating into nothingness.

Looking down the road I saw the impending massacre. A hundred fully mature tumbleweeds bounding onto the highway perpendicular to traffic. They had grown large this year thanks to adequate rainfalls and light winds. They had dried up recently and were awaiting the first bit of rough weather to be harvested. They were making a run for the northwest today but they never really had a chance.

It was then that we caught a big one square on the grill. Half wasted on contact, with the left overs breaking into sections and dissolving like a miniature Hindenburg. Other cars were picking up the rest. Each tumbleweed predestined to collide with the auto of its demise. Here a Buick, there a Yugo. The comical bit was these weeds had the look and feel of bounding boulders until impact revealed them to be as fragile as egg shells.

A look in the rear view displayed a mile of weedy carnage.

(Yes, that's fascinating Bob, but what does all this have to do with Christmas?) It was that jarring event that brought this rememberance crashing back:-

A Southern Californian Christmas Memory

As prepostrous as it sounds, when growing up in San Diego a poor snow deprived lad, I had to make my snowmen out of tumbleweeds. Whereas we had no snow, the necessary substitute material was very plentiful in the nearby vacant lot.

My parents, who both came frm snow bearing climates, thought the practice of building a weedman was "oh so precious". So one year they agreed to let my brother and me construct a festive weedman in our front yard for Christmas.

This we did with zeal, searching the local canyon for the most plump and pleasingly rounded tumblers. Our goal was to build the largest weedman ever. The large dry spherical shrubs were procured and we embellished our fellow with all the traditional trimmings. A baseball cap, twig limbs and two eyes made out of E-Z-Lite charcoal briquettes.

Proud we were of our creation and the type of ingenuity that settled to frontier states, yep.

This would have become a yearly ritual except the following spring, much to my dad's disfavor, tenacious prickly weeds sprang forth from the very spot our weedman had stood. It seems our man had spilt his seed.

(c) 1997 Bob Estus

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