Knowledge doubles every two years. By 2005, it will double
every eighteen months. Within three more years, it will double
every year, assuming a constant rate of increase, which, of
course, has also been increasing.
The next morning, Despina again tries to get others to contribute project ideas. Several others then volunteer to help Sarita with the electricity project.
"Sí, it's a big enough project for several to work on." She accidentally stumbles upon using their cooperative spirit instead of competition.
After reviewing the oral alphabet, which even the poorest student can stumble through more or less correctly, more time is spent hauling water and smoothing the floor in anticipation of the arrival of the desks. The brightest students, already long ago bored, have made short work of her Utne Reader issue on Native American languages, mostly now lost, and perused odd world languages via Despina’s photocopied library research. They shift their attention when the workers show up to construct the frame of the roof on the beams, except for Gregorio, who is teaching himself an artistic Arabic alphabet, having already copied down the Cyrillic alphabet used by many Slavic peoples.
So, maybe the projects will get done one at a time, by all hands. I've noticed a paucity of young males, maybe the tough jobs get done collectively, prioritized by some unseen method. Brain drain. Nothing to offer the young here, so they leave if they have any ambition.
Following careful study, soon everyone can predict the order in which the workers will proceed with the next board, Despina again sets off into the desert, but this time, she is prepared. She has a cache in a cool corner of the cave behind the waterfall, which is as close as it gets to refrigeration on the res.
Despina takes her children on another nature walk. She has them do an etymological investigation in which they examine minutely a new area she has located with a layout similar to that of the traditional campfire, but slightly closer to the school site. Then she has them scrutinize the likely pathways people would take to the road and the hovels. Once every living thing in the area has been checked out, she takes the now tired, hot, and grumpy children toward the pond and waterfall.
As they pass along a creek flowing from the pond to the river, she has her older students who boast pocketknives cut her some long, sturdy branches and strip the leaves off. The floppy tips are left on. Mystified, the boys comply, arming each student with a stripped branch.
The heat has climbed to all time heights by the time they arrive by her circuitous course through the desert. To make matters even worse, she has had everyone collect dead sagebrush as they go. All arrive at the cave with their arms full. Stashing the branches and the sage "wood" in one corner, the boys drag in the biggest rocks they can manage. Finally, she releases everyone to frolic in the water.
Boys being boys, they drag Despina up to an impossibly high cliff on one side of the waterfall. She gets vertigo just looking down into the pond. Part of the rock face has sloughed off into the water, so she is horrified when Juan does a beautiful dive into the pond.
I'm half afraid I'll witness his demise on the boulders below! yet she watches, transfixed.
One by one, the boys, including Alberto, dive safely and expertly into the froth. On his second trip, Alberto carefully explains the seemingly arbitrary cairn of rocks that mark the edges of the "safe" zone, which corresponds to the deep area of boulder-free water.
Finally responding to the student's cajolery, she does a "cannonball" dive. Surfacing to delighted students, she thinks, Sensational for its tremendous SPLASH in a public pool, but can't compete with the waterfall for spray and spume creation.
Before long, all the girls are also diving, head first or otherwise. Despina does try one pike dive, but is too afraid of moving out of the safe zone to tackle any of the swan dives and half gainers the boys are busy perfecting.
They'd love to see the Summer Olympics' diving competition. With all that space to travel through, I bet they could really come up with some fancy combinations.
Once all the hot dogs and buns have either been dropped or consumed, Despina dismisses class for the day.
She walks back alone, faithfully empties out her old water over her four plants, then takes Baby Blue Ram to the campfire grounds. The shadow of the hovel ought to prevent them from getting too much of a good thing in the vitamin D department, she thinks as she laboriously relocates each fire rock, log, sitting stone, the sagebrush pile, and other nightly-used features to the new area, placing them in identical relationship to each other.
Going out early that night, she lights a fire in its new location to guide people to it.
An hour after sunset, Mickey joins the group around the fire circle.
"Something new under the sun out here, too, I see," he states, looking around at all the familiar things in their new place. He smiles, removing his hat and balancing it on his knee as he perches on a convenient sitting stone, running his fingers through his hair. "What's with all the old refrigerator raids to surrounding towns? Every day, I see another load or two of them heading this way. Surely the school has reached saturation by now."
Paul Peter beats everyone to the explanation, "The missions aren't philanthropy designed to clean up the various areas, although they are having that effect. The Indians are just jumping on the bandwagon. Everyone is in silent competition to beat Miss Despina’s creative effort. Hers gets photographed and videoed as if it were a native creation.”
The sheriff raises his eyebrows. “Tour time?”
But before Despina can rise to his bait, Mickey's radio erupts in a message for him, so he retreats from the pleasant gathering with a casual wave. "Duty calls."
Nobody else adds anything. Despina, stung by the splendor of a sudden thought, to quote Browning, scribbles hurriedly in her journal.
After a while, Paul Peter breaks the general silence, "What do you miss the most?"
Nobody responds at first, then Bruno says, "Begleitung meiner Frau. My wife, ah, ..."
"My wife's companionship," supplies Horst. "Myself? Schlafen mit einer Frau -- sleeping with a woman," eying Despina suggestively.
Jacques takes over. "Meaningful work. A feeling of accomplishment and pride in a job well-done."
Paul Peter counters with, "Convenience stores that are conveniently nearby."
Horst laughs, then adds, "Better to buy the beer, eh?"
Cu's deep voice states, "Deseo lo mismo como Bruno; el compañerismo de mi esposa."
"Sure, your wife's companionship. Who wouldn't, with a woman like her?" Jacques adds softly.
"Despina?" prompts Paul Peter.
Last updated 3/20/10 Removed first mostly now lost, inserted erroneously. 3/13/10 Corrected photocopied, Slavic, pocketknives, half gainers, and bandwagon. Removed second are in tips are left on. 2/2/10 added --Unknown; changed laptop reference to photocopied library research 2/1/10 added Utne Reader alphabet material; 1/8/10 removed artwork reference for later. 6/11/08 changed splendour to splendor; (10/19/04 - removed "of the cave" to make it match school version of the same date.)
Word Count: 1156