“A creature of clay, a thing of dust.” That is what we
In the year of nineteen hundred and thirty four, when I was 20
years old, I wandered the countyside of eastern Washington, devoid
of hope or purpose. As I walked along on a lonely turn of track a
figure came into view, a man standing on a far hill above the rail
right of way and behind him a plot of paradise, green as the sea
with new wheat amongst the barren hills of scrub and a small shack
or two for his basic needs.
His name was Henry Solks and he appeared as old and barren as the
surrounding hills. I asked him how he survived in such a place and
he told me a tale that has stayed with me to this day.
Henry Solks was a Water Witch and an inventor and in his younger
days had traveled from farm to farm plying his trade of finding
well water and devising new devices for failing farmers for a
miniscule fee until he decided it was his time to become one of
them. He sectioned out a barren plot for himself as a challenge,
for he loved such things and found adventure in mere survival. One
who was close to the earth and exposed to an open sky was chaste ,
for one such could not be but an honest man -honest with himself
and honest with God- to survive.
And so it was that Henry Solks scratched at the earth and found
ways to survive and invented things to help him on his way. His
biggest challenge was water, as he had one small spring and a well
that was filled mostly with hope. Thus he saw this as his challenge
and set about a solution.
Long and hard he worked with no help but the gifts he had been
given. Like an alchemist in his den, he experimented and tried new
things until little by little small successes grew and blossomed,
and a small wisp became a cloud, and the cloud became a storm. And
so it was he had the basis of his success, but no success is
complete until perfected. When the earth is barren one must look to
the sky. When the earth rejects the seed, one must seed the
Henry took me to a shed on the backside of a hill and there, flung
wide the doors set on rusted hinges. There sat the thing of which
he was most proud. A contraption unique beyond anything I had ever
laid eyes on. He called it his “Seeder”. Of its nature I would have
difficulty in describing. A thing of fans and gears and belts but
no wings. An air machine which lifted him far above the ground to
deliver his alchemists mix to the atmosphere above his land, and
thus produce water bearing clouds over a space of several acres for
a period of half a day at a time. Henry Solks, Water Witch and
inventor, was a sower of clouds.
I stayed with Henry Solks for a week’s time and such a person I
have met never before nor since. If I were wise I never would have
left, for rare is it that you have a chance to sit at the feet of
one such as he. I returned years latter in hopes of renewing the
acquaintance, but nothing remained; neither shed nor shop, field
nor wheat. Not spring nor well, nor Henry himself or any memory of
him with the locals, nor knowledge that he had ever existed.
And so it is, my friend, that life is but a short adventure. Its
living need not be deemed great or fame producing, but its worth
depends on the unfolding of the fleeting gifts one is given. They
are gems! They are dewdrops falling from a leaf.
photo by Parkeharrison
story by EraSeek