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Yessir, Yessir, Three Bags Full

The American Congress Of Think Tanks has proclaimed June a National Month For Idle Contemplation.

What an ideal time to announce the formation of a new special interest group: The Arizona Woolgatherers Association.

If you like to sit and daydream, or idly contemplate the mysteries of life, you’re a candidate for membership. Subscribers to The Journal Of Prevarication are automatically enrolled.

The Woolgatherers Association is under the umbrella of The Wickenburg Institute For Factual Diversity. WIFD, a think tank for liars, is already the parent of The Hearsay Trust, plus our support group for people who can’t make decisions; we still haven’t decided what to name the latter group.

Do not confuse The Arizona Woolgatherers Association with the venerable Arizona Woolgrowers Association, an organization of sheep ranchers. Fortunately, the Woolgrowers have changed their name to Arizona Wool Producers.

We suspect that few members of Arizona Woolgatherers will have an actual interest in sheep.

The wool we’re interested in is that which attaches itself to your mind as you idly contemplate a pretty morning, “idly” being the operative word. (The person who is described as having “a mind like a steel trap” is likely to gather steel wool.)

When I was an adolescent, I used to lie on my back in the meadow at a place called General Springs, high on the Mogollon Rim. I had nothing to do but watch a clear blue sky, and daydream.

Warm, moist air, coming up from the Gulf of Mexico would bump into the 7,000-foot tall Rim and be forced upward, to collide with cool air. From nowhere, a wisp of cloud would appear, looking something like a bit of wool.

As I watched, I daydreamed about how I would someday become a spy, or a forest ranger. Maybe a writer, although that seemed far-fetched. Sometimes I dreamed of being a cowboy singer, like Rex Allen or Cowboy Copas.

I’d watch that cloud grow, and be joined by others. By mid-afternooon, the sky would be dark with a looming thunderstorm. Even the sighing of the pines was stilled by the oppressive air. Time to go indoors, because those thunderstorms on the Rim are particularly violent.

Woolgathering helped get me through dull classes at Flagstaff High School. Daydreams helped me survive Arizona State College at Flagstaff. (ASC-Flagstaff survived, too. It is now Northern Arizona University, but in the 1950s, it had only six students and twelve faculty members.)

I have found woolgathering useful when a wife wants to talk and I don’t want to listen. I murmur responses, but my mind is off in my daydream world.

Or maybe she wants to watch a TV show that doesn’t really engage me. Fine, Sweetheart, watch what you want. My freewheeling mind can discuss a movie and chew gum at the same time.

Woolgathering can be dangerous, as when a woman asks, “Do my legs look fat?” Why do women ask questions like that? You’re dreaming about fishing in Alaska, and you just caught a plump salmon, and you respond, “Yes, nice and fat.”

This is a good time of year for rumination. It’s getting too hot to do useful work.

The snowbirds have gone, and we have taken down the decorative clouds we hang out for their benefit in early spring. There will be some cloudless days until summer rains arrive in July.

Even under ideal conditions, it’s tougher to find chances to gather wool these days. There are too many demands on our minds.

I like to be busy. But running WIFD and its spinoffs takes a lot of time. A waiting world is eager to see the next edition of The Journal Of Prevarication.

I once wrote a book called Arizona Landmarks for Arizona Highways, and now I have to be on the lookout for landmarks which can be renamed. It’s the coming trend.

Our aging bodies, abused for nigh onto seventy years, demand attention. The health care system gets more screwed up every day, and the paperwork and referrals take a lot of time.

I must oversee the war on terror, and any other wars the thinkers in Washington generate. There’s a presidential election coming up. Miss Ellie and I, who belong to different parties, must supervise the primaries.

Weighty world problems require long discussions. Since Ellie is usually better informed than I, I have to keep on my toes.

The governor’s office is pushing me to reactivate The Arizona Project For Timely Procrastination, but we haven’t gotten around to it–maybe because we’ve been woolgathering.

Frankly, some of the wool my brain has been gathering lately looks more like dryer lint.

The mission of the Arizona Woolgatherers Association is to remind us all to slow down and make time for daydreaming. You’ll live longer, and enjoy life more.

While I was planning the AWA, I checked the idea with a key advisor to the WIFD, Ken Clemmer. Ken thought I said “Arizona Foolgatherers Association.”

That would work, too.

Last 5 posts by Jim Cook

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