Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

A not so boring walk with Tater

Wick's World


“Let’s take a break, Tater,” I told my sister’s Poo-Chin. “We need to get that cocklebur out of your foot.”

Tater was the third in a line of our family’s propensity to bestow dogs with southern names. My wife and I had the other two: Mae and Sweet Pea.

I recently traveled to Texas from Minnesota to help my sister recover from the loss of her spouse of 53 years. I am also helping her recover from the open heart surgery she had just a few weeks after her husband died — tough times.

While in Texas, I quickly learned nearly every small town in west Texas is defined by its cactus and tumbleweeds. The black sheep of their semi-desert family is the cursed cocklebur.

While Tater was way too smart to enter the needlepoint minefields of cacti, he could not avoid the dreaded little stickers that grow almost everywhere, even in the cracks of sidewalks. Where or how those nasty little cockleburs became attached didn’t matter to Tater. He just wanted them removed. As hard as he tried, he was having little luck. I removed several of the small, sticky burrs that actually played a role in the invention of Velcro. I took little solace in that small piece of trivia and I’m sure Tater cared even less.

It was a rather warm 95 degrees on this mid-October day when Tater and I took our cocklebur break. The pecan tree that shaded us from the hot sun was situated on a corner lot where a temporarily abandoned house sat. Although the house was lacking windows, it did appear to be in some stage of repair, rather than complete abandonment.

It was so pleasant sitting in the shade that my thoughts began to run amok. Call it daydreaming if you will; I call it Trump-thinking. Trump had yet to be elected and his wall had yet to be erected. Considering the proximity to Mexico, the likelihood was rather high that illegal immigrants were still crossing the nearby border without bringing their ladders or shovels, finding no need to climb or tunnel the invincible wall. At this very moment, illegal immigrants could be walking toward the quiet little town way out in southwest Texas.

Maybe I’m sitting in the yard of a so-called “safe house,” I thought. Could this vacant lot with its abandoned house become tonight’s bed and breakfast for desperate people heading north seeking a chance at the American dream? Could they get an appearance on “The Apprentice” or maybe even their own television reality show?

I was staring at the overgrown weeds when I spotted the astonishing proof. A weathered plastic bag lying near me clearly contained some very official looking documents. I opened the bag and removed two state of Texas birth certificates — documents that could remove the word illegal from immigrant. That confirmed it. This is a safe house I silently screamed to my overactive imagination. I rushed to my sister’s house dragging Tater alongside.

I opened my laptop and garnered all of the investigative skills in my arsenal. I had almost reached a dead end when Lady Luck played her hand. A minor social media entry eventually led me to an obvious answer. The documents appeared to belong to a legal citizen who is working in a business less than five minutes from where I am sitting.

Then I asked myself, what about the safe house and all of the other imaginary thoughts I was having?

The next morning was Monday, marking another work week beginning all over America. As I write this, it is my wish I can walk up to a person and say, “I think I have something of yours that you would like to have back.”

On the other hand, this story could take several different directions. What if this person is indeed an illegal alien? My discovery could be filled with numerous diverse and maybe not so pleasant outcomes. I could return the documents directly to the courthouse, but that would ruin a good story. My deadline is rapidly approaching so I may need to pull a Paul Harvey and give you “The Rest of the Story” next week.

As I head out the door searching for answers, who said the small Texas town in the middle of nowhere was boring? I haven’t even begun to tell my fellow Minnesotans about the fan-crazed sport down here called “Texas High School Football.”


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