the one-hundred-fifty-mile taco

When the river is too high for fishing—follow the back roads and see how long it takes before you feel lost. And after that, how long it takes to be found.

Leave the banks of the Stillwater; marvel how just last month you were able to reach the other side of the channel and now the channel is gone. Snow melt being the difference between last month’s fishing and this month’s back road driving.

And a coyote that actually might be a wolf is the difference between the way deer normally run through the fields and the way you see them running now. In fact, you stop in the middle of the gravel road to clock how fast they race over the southern hills. This time, no white tails teasing goodbye, but rather a stretched out, flat-line lope. Or gallop. Whichever speed is the fastest, that ‘s what it is.

You think for a moment. Turn your head and watch for movement. There: Coyote—one, no two—in the sagebrush on the north side of the road. Later, you’ll google coyote versus wolf and realize holyredridinghood! what you interrupted was wolves versus deer.

Poetry is seeing life without a plot.

It’s seeing the Beartooth Mountains behind the silos in the high fields and realizing the snowline is almost gone.  Three weeks ago you camped up there in eleven inches of snow and now that same snow’s melt is what has your river out of shape. And it’s realizing you only see the wolf when you don’t want to. A bank of basking snakes along the one river you can find to fish.

It’s living with whatever comes.

As in the case of the Long Beach tacos now possible in Montana. Could it be true? A small hut somewhere in the mountains that makes tacos al pastor the way they are meant to be?! Pork slow-cooked on a vertical skew, pineapple juices dripping. Sans lettuce, sans cheese. Plus cilantro, lime and onion.

But did you want to follow the roads away from rivers that cannot be fished  to find the taco hut?

No. At first you are not interested. It wouldn’t be the same to go there on purpose. But if it turned out a person ended up there, then yeah, of course. Tacos al pastor from a Montana hut would be something good to experience. Just don’t force it to happen.



About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website:

20 responses to “the one-hundred-fifty-mile taco

  1. beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. i think it was robert frost who said something like this: writing a poem is like following an ice cube dropped into a hot frying pan. if the ice cube ends up at a hut, well then ok.

    • redmitten

      mm- every time i think i’ve shared something with too few dots, too many melting ice cubes, you show up and encourage me. that’s a great line you shared. ha! “if the ice cube ends up at the hut . . .” yeah!

  2. Sherry — Your wisdom never ceases to astound me. “Poetry is seeing life without a plot.” I’ve written that in my journal to take with me today on “poetry safari” when I go off in my tent for a solo overnight of writing. Thanks for the fine send-off!

    And wolves, too!

    • redmitten

      karla- and now having seen your tent (ours are similar!), how did the writing go? i am glad that line inspires you. it’s helped me understand myself- i have always been the one to watch a movie and in retelling the story behind the movie i tend to forget how the movie ended because i get caught up in “the poetry”.

  3. That first paragraph should be posted in a lot of wild places for people to think about!
    Sometimes you just have to support these small, unusual, awkwardly planted business’!! heheheh…I think I may have to get lost on the high taco road myself one day!

  4. katy

    that sounds delicious!
    the snakes. ugh. yesterday there was a snake in the canteen at work, and nobody could catch it. It was between me and the vending machine full of chocolate bars. It took me all day to work up the courage to go get some chocolate. I hate snakes with completely irrational hysteria.

    Awesome about seeing a wolf! and about things not having a plot – that’s what blogging is to me. I have no idea how it will end or what will happen next. also re: your daughter’s tools, that’s great that you helped her not end up with a set of pots and pans. 😉

    • redmitten

      katy- that’s so funny–a snake coming between you and the chocolate bar. what i don’t like is the startle. mice and snakes have that in common. and i like what you said about blogging and how you don’t know where you are going when you sit down to write. that’s it! the process opens up doors we’d not know about otherwise. and regarding my daughter- what one cordless drill can do to boost one’s sense of self is amazing. at least that is the way she and i are wired. put a skillet in my hand and i immediately deflate. (interestingly enough, my son is the one who knows his ways around a skillet. 🙂

  5. Mark Jackley

    “Poetry is seeing life without a plot.” That is wonderful…

    • redmitten

      hi mark- great to hear from you! i wasn’t sure if anyone else would take to that line the way i do/did, and i am glad you stopped by to tell me so.

  6. Rose Hunter

    Well and of course you know this title gets me in. 🙂 I would love eat pastor in Montana one day and you will have to come here and eat it with me in Vallarta one day! I heard that this food came from Lebanese immigrants to Mexico – it started in Guadalajara, a mix between a taco and a kebab (with the skewer, rather than the comal, flat stove, that all other taco meat basically, is cooked on/fried on). It’s popular in Guadalajara (and here because we are close to GDL) but not everywhere in Mexico.
    I should check that, via google. Or I could just spread information I am 85%-90% sure about, around about, I think…. 🙂

    • redmitten

      rose- i think the 85% sureness is a lovely thing. and i love the idea that at the same time, sometimes, we are both eating tacos al pastur. now, let me think. i was to ask you about adobada.

      • Rose Hunter

        Adobada is yum! It’s marinated. I’m not sure in what, but it tastes good. My birria ladies (favorite taco stand here) serve it as well. 🙂 I’m 100% sure!

      • redmitten

        so that is how you spell birria. the nearest birria station here is 1100 miles away. 😦

  7. red mitten my dear, do you accept awards? i don’t, usually, but this week i did. the “awesome blog content” award. i’d like to pass it along to you, if you will accept it. and i mean i’d REALLY like you to have it because, well, just because your blog always has awesome content.

    • redmitten

      mm- *blush* ok, and thank you! so wow. and you know what sunday i listened to your cd again. puts me into such a good mood!

  8. There’s something about the 2nd person POV that just grabs me by my withering biceps and pulls me right into that churning river of words.

    No plot. Whatever comes. Whitewater rapids or a silvery, serene fluidity. The willingness to just go, and stay a while makes all the difference. Oh, how I love taking these rides with you, Sherry.

    • redmitten

      jayne- it’s so fun to have you on these rides! and i like that you told me the 2nd person POV worked in this. there can be such a heated debate about that in the writerly circles.

  9. This is a great post. I spent many nights in high school driving till I was lost, then finding my way back. There is nothing better than an authentic taco al pastor. Fun stuff thanks for sharing.

    • redmitten

      it’s always neat to run into a fellow-traveler. the more you get lost, the more you learn to trust you’ll find your way back. good to hear from you!

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