“Missouri woman, come on up
to the ranch Sunday after church?” Weldon asked Gwen.
“Ranch? What ranch?” Gwen
“Well, it isn’t really a
ranch anymore, but I’m working on that. I need to take some things for
“Sure, I’ll go.” Gwen was
“I’ll pick up some
groceries to go with us.” Weldon told her.
“For a picnic?” Gwen
wanted to know so she could take what they needed.
“No, everything is
there.” Weldon explained.
Gwen knew nothing about
their destination and had no idea of what he spoke but didn’t question
him. How did this man know her feelings? It was like he read her mind.
She was deeply heartsick over this marriage that was slipping through
her fingers as surely as sand in a stream of water. Without a doubt,
that part of her life was over. She wasn’t a shallow person and deep
within her total being she knew. She understood the ultimate ending of .
To get out of town, just for a short time, might give her the break she
needed so she could think. Her husband said there was a part of him that
would forever love her, but then Gwen wanted to know why he had just
stopped trying with his whole self. Why couldn’t she hold him as
completely as she once had. Her suspicions were not far from what must
be the truth. The loss was much like death but even worse because they
were both alive and walking around, only that part of them to make a
unit was gone. A ride through the countryside would give her a short
reprieve from carrying sadness on her back like an unwanted burden.
“I’m ready to get out of
town for a day.” She told Weldon.
Sunday morning after
church the car was loaded and they were on their way to the outbacks of
Osage County where the sky was big enough to be a gauze upon any broken
heart for healing. Over the winding highways they drove and then on to
the roads of gravel so rough Weldon cut his speed to one half of that
when they were on the paved highways.
The children were amazed
to see how many rabbits there were in the pastures and along the road.
“Rabbits! Look at all the
rabbits! Why all these rabbits?” The kids were amazed.
“I have a cousin who
hunts the coyotes because they eat his calves and chickens. Every once
in a while he is over ambitious about killing them off. When too many
coyotes are gone there is no predator for the rabbits.
“What a grand place this
is,” Gwen observed.
“This is my homeland
where my grandfathers fought for a place to live.
The prairie is part of my
life and when I die I want to rest up there by my mother.”
Weldon pointed out to the
loneliest looking cemetery Gwen had ever seen just a short distance off
“Prairie it is,” she
observed. I’ve never seen so much grass and only grass all in one place.
The house they drove up
to seemed to be an old woman who took a solid stance. She might be gray,
a bit disheveled and alone but this had nothing to do with her unbending
attitude as if to say, “I’m here, what is your business at my place?”
“Are you sure we can go
inside?” Gwen must have felt something of the spirits who might have
wanted to protect the place because she was uneasy about going into the
“Of course!” Weldon
reassured her. “This is where I grew up. I own it, in partners with my
Dad and Mariah.
“It’s so big,” Mariah was
walking through the furnished rooms. “Who belongs to this furniture?”
This has always been
here, ever since I can remember. Mom and Dad bought it in the 1920's.
Some of it was a gift from Mother’s Uncle Louis Shoenela. The Osage were
big people and they like robust living in every way from furnishing to
“I have the groceries in
the kitchen if you want to start supper for the kids.” Weldon led her
into the vintage kitchen where he had set the paper sacks on the
porcelain sink drainboard. Gwen began to make herself acquainted with
“Everything is in place
like someone has been living here.” She pulled down the bin which was
full of flour.
“Dad sees to it,
everything is always in order, but you will need to pull the spreads
back. The linens on the beds get damp feeling with being made up.”
Weldon was going back to the truck of his car where he
had his saddle and some other tack.
“Beds?” Gwen silently
questioned. “Are we staying the night?”
Weldon switched on the
televison and adjusted the rotor leading to the antenna on top of the
house. The program and music flooding the room made the house come alive
and suddenly was welcoming them.
Gwen stood in the door of
the kitchen and gazed out across the space of dining and living room to
where her children were tumbling on the carpet in front of the
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