Flaming Dragon

There’s a sand dune in the middle of the largest habitable environ of an urban area. A desolate Chinese Junk is stranded on the dune. If you watch it long enough you can tell that the Junk lists and sways. I’ve been watching it for years, and for years I’ve expected that any day now it would tip over and spill its secrets. I like to imagine I’ll bear witness to the secrets as they tumble and roll. Late last century I started making annual pilgrimages to the dune, but I never make headway. It seems to always sit on the horizon no matter how hard I pedal. It constantly remains just out of reach.

The wind, though, sends out bits of treasure from the Junk’s hold. If you’re vigilant and if you train yourself to expect it, you can stumble across strange and fascinating bits of ephemera—rabbit shaped rings, and bits of metal shaped by fire and wind.

I have a friend that takes these odd bits and fashions them into the bowls and ferrules of pipes. My favorite is made from the driftwood that I discovered on one of my pilgrimages. It was late one fall as the weather was cooling down enough to attempt another trip. Somewhere between Oak Cliff and the dune is a dead zone of dry rot and rock. I might not have noticed the pile of driftwood had I not face-planted when a hidden branch lodged between the spokes of my front wheel.

I dug around and found a good-sized piece and jammed it into my pack. I had to turn back, the dune was no closer and with a bent front wheel it would have been impossible. Danny fashioned his Flaming Dragon pipe with the driftwood and the remains of a warrior madden’s bracelet that I had gathered on a previous journey. It’s a hefty oom paul design. The steam makes an elegant s curve into the bowl which suddenly flares out and intersects itself in licks of stylized flame. Diminishing scales are crawl up from the bottom of the bowl. The ferrule is wrapped with the golden bracelet which is inlaid with a black ball bearing.

The wind delivers treasure. If you look.