What Did Texas Rangers, Henry David Thoreau, and I Hold in Common?

Your Stuff is in 27B...Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

What did a Texas Ranger value the most? The salt pork tied onto the saddle of one of his fellow’s horses. To a degree, a handful of coffee. And . . . well, not much else. Maybe a cow, butchered on occasion. But he still needed salt and wished for coffee. This was along the Rio Grande with unfriendly Mexicans just right across the water. Hard living, but simple too.

Speaking of such matters:

I just read the whole book again. It’s fascinating. I’ve probably read it five times in the past 60 years! What I remembered was that they drank salt water on that journey, and since I live near where their journey started in Latin America, I’ve learned to add salt to my food and water and coffee, until my urine doesn’t run clear. Check out the brief quote here:

When tormented by thirst in a hot climate, one generally assumes that the body needs water, and this may often lead to immoderate inroads on the water ration... On really hot days in the tropics you can pour tepid water down your throat till you taste it at the back of your mouth, and you are just as thirsty. It is not liquid the body needs then, but, curiously enough, salt. The special rations we had on board included salt tablets to be taken regularly on particularly hot days, because perspiration drains the body of salt. We experienced days like this when the wind had died away and the sun blazed down on the raft without mercy. Our water ration could be ladled into us till
it squelched in our stomachs, but our throats malignantly demanded much more. On such days we added from 20 to 40 per cent of bitter, salt sea water to our fresh-water ration and found, to our surprise, that this brackish water quenched our thirst. We had the taste of sea water in our mouths for a long time afterward but never felt unwell, and moreover we had our water ration
considerably increased.

Thoreau explained himself. I won’t be redundant, so here are some links:

Here’s one from azquotes.com I want you to read:
Simplify your life. Don’t waste the years struggling for things that are unimportant. Don’t burden yourself with possessions. Keep your needs and wants simple and enjoy what you have. Don’t destroy your peace of mind by looking back, worrying about the past. Live in the present. Simplify!

Henry David Thoreau

How do I myself live? Pretty simply here in Residential Los Bosques, Panama. Let’s see. I don’t have a car or motorcycle or bicycle. Almost no stuff. My furniture is a box spring on the floor and two pillows. No wait! I have a plastic lawn chair, but I just use it to dry one or the other pair of bluejeans.

I walk to the store when I need something. Usually I can do my shopping and get back home in six to twelve hours total round trip. Taxis won’t pick me up (I’m an extrano — an American of German origin — they don’t really like us because of Noriega and Operation Just Cause.)

How could I complain about a little ‘reverse’ racism when I was of the superior race when I lived in Ohio! I know, that’s a tasteless thing to joke about.
But wait! I know for a fact that my people originally came from Africa… so there’s that. And better yet, I may have Neanderthal genes from my family’s origins in Germany!

Anyway I am all kinds of different things. Teacher, professor, carpenter, electrician, reader and writer, loner, not social but polite… a thinker. I have an environmental scientist degree and arts and letters too… some other stuff and a whole bunch of scholarships. Um, I was rich once from building houses but got rid of the money to get simple again. I hate stuff. I loved my motorcycle and my blue tee-shirts and two pairs of jeans and hiking boots. What else is there? Books come from libraries or Powells, or now online.

I go on long walks saying hola or buenos dias, or buenas tardes, or after six p.m. buenos noches to many dozens of people. They’re either tolerant or they appreciate my politeness. (Spanish tip: when someone introduces you to their mother or father, or wife, you say, “Mucho gusto conocerle senora.” That just means ‘pleased to meet you,’ but it means a lot more if you pronounce it all correctly.)

My stuff consists of notebooks, ballpoint pens, a laptop and fiber optic, food, toilet paper, and a garden full of trees and all kinds of plants all grown from seed by me in the past two years. Here in Panama a seed can sprout the same day and some of my trees from seed got 4 or 5 meters tall in 18 months.

What else? Oh. I sure need a pair of tennis shoes. My feet are all beat up from sharp rocks and walking in sandals. Hmm. Need cigarettes too.

Fred Ermlich




Living in rural Panamá — non-extractive, non-capitalistic. Expat USA. Scientist, writer, researcher, teacher. STEM mentor +languages. Gargoylplex@protonmail.com

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Fred Ermlich

Fred Ermlich

Living in rural Panamá — non-extractive, non-capitalistic. Expat USA. Scientist, writer, researcher, teacher. STEM mentor +languages. Gargoylplex@protonmail.com

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