Hogs to Houston

The word “haul” reminds me of Maine, a place I have never been, and California, a place I visited once because I was in love, and Arizona, a place where I worked out of the back of a hotel for the Feds, and Maryland, a place I lived for many, many years. Most of us will admit this is an eclectic memory haul for any word, but especially for a mean little word most of us associate with moving garbage to the curb. And in point of fact, ‘haul’ had absolutely nothing to do with whatever I did or did not have to do with these four United States.

What ‘Haul’ reminds me of is a painter, banjo picker, songwriter, and all-round grand and lovely human being I will call Foe (short for Forest—not enemy) Meader who, at one time or another, made his home in these four places. And it reminds me because he wrote a folk song that contains the line “Hauling Hogs to Houston”. The alliteration alone should have been enough to make this a best seller in any world except the flit/glitz world of our last 70 years. Unfortunately I do not believe it ever made it beyond jam sessions and fireside sing alongs. The world is a loser for this sad fact.

Oddly enough “haul” does not remind me of Texas, another place I have never been, though when he was my neighbor in Maryland, Foe was married to a Texan. And even more oddly it reminds me of Montana, where I currently live, and where Foe has, to my knowledge, never been—despite my invitations. It reminds me of Montana because about a week ago an eighteen wheeler loaded with on-the-hoof pork, did a flip on U.S. Highway 84 and dumped its haul right where the road makes a ninety degree and the right-of-way on one side is a cliff and on the other is the Madison River. So when I recently drove that sharp bend between cliff and the river, I found myself muttering “Hauling Hogs to Houston.”

Words carry with them vast weights of association. And I am fortunate to have this haul for this word.

Thank you to Forest Meader for the song “Hogs to Houston.”

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