Denny was a tumbleweed, and it was his lot to spin around town and blow through parts of the country few people ever get to see close up.

Denny traveled near and far, and sometimes even to and fro.

Denny was lonely; he had no friends — but he wasn’t lonesome, because he always had the tactical acquaintance of gravel, sand and the odd rock.

Denny relied upon the kindness of a howling wind to propel him from scene to scenery and he never complained when he wanted to veer left but the wind blew him Eastward.

The life of a tumbleweed is the lot of death — one of the the ghost who doesn’t really know he’s dead — for there is nothing left alive in a tumbling weed except for the hangers-on, like itinerant horseflies and feral mice looking for shelter from the blistering sun, and that isn’t really living if others are just using you because you’re convenient and not because you matter.

And so Denny gamboled along, in his animate death, searching for meaning and only finding dust; looking for God and only finding the cruelty of a blue sky glaring back at him from above; and yearning for the greenery of his youth when he was rooted and strong and owned a stake in an earth that has now just become his endless pavement.

“The problem with being a Tumbleweed,” Denny whispered to himself, “is that there’s only spinning without substance; you can only be a tumbleweed if you’re always moving and spinning away — and if you get caught, or if you die one of your thousands of daily deaths in the lack of navigational wind, you lose all your mojo and most of your contextual magic, and you become ordinary, a weed, if you will, and no tumbleweed ever wants to admit they’re just something discarded waiting to be picked up and put away.”

And so Denny just kept rolling — with no place special in mind — but with a mindful meaning that somewhere, around there, along the rollicking plains and in the droughted ponds and alongside the cracking riverbeds, there must be another tumbleweed waiting to love him and share the stumbles.

“There’s nothing so sad, in said life,” Denny muttered under his breath, “than tumbling along in the black of a cold night when you can’t see your stem before your face, and thinking you’re missing the one thing you’ve been waiting for all your life: Someone willing to share the ride and head in the right direction with you no matter which way the wind blows you.”

Denny tried to manage a smile as he skipped across the barbed wire dangling from a rotting fencepost and headed into the punishing heat of the desert, still alone, but always content that movement was at least a meager sign of life, in the midst of his dying days.


  1. What a touching story. I think I cried a little bit at the end. So melancholy.

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