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Donna Flood
Oil on the Timberland


Oil on the TimberlandThere was a closeness between the granddaughter and her grandmother. Sometimes, the others in the family may not have understood. For Jenny it was as something she could not explain at the time but, she was most content with the bond. A bond after all was what it was, a close knit society of two. If she could have known about the relationship between a grandmother and the first granddaughter in the Native American ways it would have made no difference to her at the time. The girl confided easily in her grandmother and the older woman was always there to advise.

For the most part Jenny was with her own family, while they all lived at her grandmother's country place. There were acres of land and it was a full, free, life for the children. The beauty of the timberland was eighty acres of playground for them. They skipped along sand bars close to the river, swung on low growing limbs over the smaller streams, enjoyed picnic lunches under pecan trees, hunted the timber lands for small game with their father. There was never a shortage of people coming in to enjoy the beauty of the land, fishing or just lingering around the shores of the river. It was a hidden place and gave those strangers an escape from the civilized surrounding where they lived. Sometimes, folks who lived in row houses became so hungry for outdoor places, untouched by mowing machines and manicured care. When the children's family lived on the ranch lands there was always a place made for gentle people to come for relief and refreshment. On the prairie this had been the watershed their father built. Here in the timber, it was simply the solitude and removed spaces from the town area to give peace and quiet from small city life. According to their father's southern culture instilled in him by his mother they were obligated to be hospitable hosts.

These were the times to mold Jenny toward the love for nature. At every turn there was a new scene of involvement with the world about her. If she wasn't learning about the roots of the buck brush plant as to their usefulness in weaving small baskets, she was being taught to identify the trees according to their bark and leaf. Of these things she spoke with her grandmother and the elderly woman was pleased to hear it. At these times too, Jenny's grandmother would tell her stories of events to have transpired over the years on the timber land. The girl never tired of hearing the many and varied stories her grandmother told.

"Gypsies?" "Really Grandmother!"

"Yes, there were gypsies who came to stay in the timber lands." "It was removed and isolated from unfriendly people who might push in upon them in an unwelcome way." The grandmother was slipping into another story the girl could tell. In her mind she could see the camps of the sparkling, dancing gypsy women as the old woman wove and spun the story. She could see the men too, who her grandmother said her mother told her to avoid, lest they be spirited away to disappear and never be seen again. Grandmother laughed and talked about how her husband would notice there were goats missing, only to to into the camp of those folks to see the hides of the animal spread across the floor.

"I didn't know folks visited the timber way back in the olden days," Jenny was typical of all young people who think of grandparents as being from another world.

Jenny's grandmother smiled. "Yes, the timber land has as long as I can remember has been a place for quiet meditation, even when I was a girl our folks came there for prayer and meditation.

When Jenny was ready to leave she casually mentioned something she had seen in the timber. It had to do with the way gas bubbled up through the mud in places.

"Where did you see this in particular?" Granddaughter. "Oh, just about everywhere." "Any place there is soft liquid mud." "The gas bubbles up and pops on the surface."

"Hm-m, the old woman looked thoughtful."

Some time shortly later oil wells were put down and the rich fluid brought an extra revenue for her grandmother. The girl in her heart and mind had a great consolation as to being able to gift her grandmother, first, with the news about the gas which came before the oil.


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