This month, Calendar addresses the sticky issue of the Kern Primrose Sphinx Moth. To better appreciate his insights, it's recommended that you first read a separate article concerning the endangered moth, which also appears in the December Fence Post.


Separating the Moth from the Myth

by Calendar Hacksaw

I was down at Sand Canyon a few weeks back and overheard this old codger spoutin' off about how he was gonna write an article for the Fence Post concerning some endangered moth over in Walker Basin.

Well, the more I listened to this fella, the more sense he seemed to make, and I honestly thought we might have something here: a new "cash cow" for the Basin; bigger than cattle or alfalfa, if managed right, and capable of generating more money than summertime beer sales in Twin Oaks. But now I'm not so sure.

First of all, it's just a moth, and it ain't a very pretty one, at that. And, second, judging by the number of fist fights going on outside the bar that night, I'd have to say our local cowboys are more endangered than that danged moth.

But I paid attention to what I was overhearing. In fact, for the rest of the night, I sat there perched on my barstool making copious notes on a cocktail napkin while mulling over the possibilities. I wanted to know if we have what it takes to fully develop this concept and exploit the moth. I wanted to know how we could milk this moth for a buck or two; assuming they haven't all died off already out of sheer boredom, like my readers.

About then, three fools got up to sing a Tom T. Hall song, so I wandered off to the restroom. On the Ladies' Room wall was penned this simple Haiku:

Introduction to
Kern Primrose Sphinx Moth

Well, I guess that says it all.

Okay, let's assume a big moth preserve gets established somewhere in the Basin; maybe in Thompson Canyon or on the Rankins' spread or wherever it is that this bug calls "home." What happens next?

I guess moth collectors from around the globe, Europe, South America, Asia, come streamin' south out of Bodfish and north from Bealville dyin' to witness firsthand these strugglin' moths makin' their last stand.

Our visitors will need places to sleep, places to eat, places to buy souvenirs. Are we ready to take their money without openly displaying any greed or guilt?

I'm already working on an original watercolor depicting a moth singing Karaoke; figured I might as well make a few bucks selling lithographs at $25 a whack.

Oh, and docents; we'll need trained docents and plenty of 'em to lead tour groups through the preserve and keep the moths from being molested or even seen. Without a confirmed sighting, those busloads of old ladies will keep comin' back year after year, spendin' that pension money.

I wonder how difficult it will be to get Robin Shive and the kids over at Piute Mountain School to drop the "Wranglers" as their team mascot and switch over to the "Sphinx." Can't you just hear 'em now:

"We're the Kern Primrose Sphinx!
And, gee, your team really stinks!"

Maybe we can even get the Cow Belle to change its name to "Wool Eaters."

But the premier event will be the annual Walker Basin Moth Festival. As many of you already know, down on the Mungabareena Reserve in New South Wales, the indigenous locals celebrate the Mungabareena Ngan-Girra, or "Bogong Moth Festival." It's full of tradition, and involves eating a lot of Bogong Moths, either prepared elegantly over an open pit, or simply skewered and cooked on the barbie. Our little moth wouldn't make much of a dent in anyone's appetite, but a good Sphinx Burger with a big Portabella mushroom and a full slice of pineapple on a souvenir plate oughta fetch $12 to $15, plus tip.

It's important that the Walker Basin Moth Festival be timed to avoid any conflicts with other longstanding observances and patriotic holidays, such as Team Penning, Bingo or St. Patrick's Day.

They say "location is everything," and we should keep that in mind when choosing a site for the Festival. I should think the Walker Basin folks would want to take the lead in this, since it's their moth and all. But if they spend five minutes procrastinating, I'll bet the Twin Oaks Loraine Chapter of "Save the Moth!" will try to steal the show. And once that $100,000 mesh-walled, walk-though moth exhibit gets built it'll be hard to convince anyone to move it.

Are you still with me?

Of course, we'll need a Moth Queen contest (swimsuit, evening wear and talent competition, in that order), and members of the Queen's Court to sell lots of beer and wine. I know from personal experience that moths are attracted to alcoholic beverages. Up at the Twisted Sisters Ranch, I don't dare set a drink down for five minutes unless I want a floating moth collection.

Well, eventually the old, gray-haired gentleman who was sweepin' up the floor asked me to leave the lounge, explaining politely that it had been closed for several hours by then. I looked around me, and sure enough, there were only two or three customers still drinkin' and Greg was just finishin' his last song.

But this moth is nothing to sneeze at, and even if we have no interest in moths at all, we'd better pay attention to this one, since it's in our own backyard and the feds are spending $800,000 of our hard-earned tax dollars to keep it there. It's also a land use issue, and I think we'd all rather see a moth preserve than a Walmart or an Ikea.

Let the message be heard loud and clear: it might just be a moth to outsiders, but it's our moth, so keep your poachin' hands off of it or suffer the wrath of the Basin!

Calendar Hacksaw lays his eggs on the underside of, And he's been around moths long enough to know that the female of the species is called a "myth."

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