The panoramic scope of world migration takes humans away from deserts for needs and comforts. This valley remains one of the most inhospitable regions and the extreme thought of who’s toughest seeded naturally after rubbing elbows with a few of them. In a forthcoming special “Toughest in the Valley” I struggle to choose one among: TJ the range runner, Quick the animal boy, Corter the deceased (“Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom”- General George Patton.), Alice the Dog Lady, Laura the snake catcher, Big Jake the shot, the 71-year old Indian who evaded by foot 80 authorities with dogs and helicopters after dropping the sheriffs finger, or others. Yesterday I met a surprise new candidate, Paiute. He’s “100% honest engine” and a POW of the Korean and WWI (substantiated by body scars). At 82, he’s oldest around but, unlike Corter who sat in a chair meditating until a bomb hit, Paiute junks daily. He’s either off collecting, shuffling on his 40-acre junk ranch, or awaiting business. He lives with a male

Calico cat (a genetic rarity and the only one I’ve met) that eats scorpions, brings home rattlers, and jumped on a coyotes back. The ranch holds such treasures that I spent two days this month sifting and loading items into a motor less ice cream truck. I paid $850 in wrapped coins and Paiute hauled it 16 miles to my place behind a pickup that couldn’t hit first gear. The purchases could keep me in projects for months. Paiute had a property mate once for who owned a black Lab that kept the cat company. That isn’t all it kept company for, “One evening,” says Paiute, “I walk into his trailer and he’s drunk an screwing the Lab!” He banished the fornicators and lives alone with the cat as a definite candidate. The hardy populace suggest their hard society is the equal or better than others because here one rises or falls in the sand on talent. This is a meritocracy of reward by performance where impotence drops one from the “circle” to rougher times. They consider themselves a merit aristocracy and that may take a paradigm shift to grasp on both sides of the circle. I confess I could have made it alone only with great difficulty.