The real Little Green Man from Mars is alive and well and living in Appalachia.

The Truth Is a Lone Assassin by Jonco Bugos

Monday, July 14, 2008

Memories of Mars

As a little kid growing up in Appalachia, I was fascinated by dirt, loved playing in dirt, even without the nifty, little, all-metal toy dump trucks I used to have. The dirt alone was enough to engage me in hour after hour of spring, summer and early fall fun. And that was because the Pennsylvania Appalachian Mountains were — and still are — so green and fertile and damp with dew and summer rain that finding dirt anywhere was rare. Wonderful, dry, sandy dirt was a rare commodity, indeed, during my childhood. Usually, it was filled to the brim with something green and growing.

Pennsylvania dirt was black and rich and incredibly fertile. It would grow anything. I swear, if you lost a quarter in that rich loamy soil in the back yard and you found your twenty-five cents later that summer it would be two dimes and a nickel. Of course, I missed the red planet Mars, my real home, and would have gladly settled for finding twenty-five shiny, new, reddish, coppery pennies instead of silver coins.

I realized at an early age that I was stuck here on Earth and in backward Appalachia, for some unknown reason, a prisoner on a greedy world with an arrested culture where up is down and black is white. Where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, a rule that is carved in stone, not written in the dirt. That’s why so many bad people get rich so easily here on Earth and why so many good people work for them, in turn, for pennies.

But even the touch and feel of red metal in your hands, if only for a few minutes, isn’t worth living that kind of preordained life. Still, even to this day, I love sitting right down in the dry dirt on a hot summer day and sifting the dusty earth through my fingers, holding it up to the wind and letting it scatter as it trickles to the ground between them. Pretending it is red Martian soil instead.

I suppose I could have moved to Georgia where the soil is nice and red. But I’m not all that crazy about peaches and pecans. And a person can only drink so much Coca-Cola.

Besides, missing one home is already bad enough.

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