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American History
Osage Highlanders - Chapter 11


Tonkawa was the next little town to be visited and enjoyed by the artist on a weekend during their fall celebration.  She had been given a place to set her easel and instructed as to the time to arrive, which was early and in agreement with the ways of the farming community. However, the crisp coolness of the weather held her round her kitchen for another cup of coffee and about an hour past the time she should have been due to leave with easel, painting gear, canvass, brushes, the tardy lady was out the door and on her way to the little town only thirty minutes away. There were always obligations and favors her husband had to meet as far as promises made by him although he was retired. Maybe in a bigger town he would have been called a consultant but in this little town things didn't work like this. It was more of just an exchange of favors.  He enjoyed the time away from the house, so this worked out for them. At the time Dawn's daughter lived on their property and she was there to help in case her wheelchair bound sister needed help.

The drive through miles of now winter green wheat was definitely pleasant. The dark rich green of the wheat fields was a break from the brown grass of their yards. The radio was on  a local station which was dedicated to country music. Since Pete wasn't much on country music no matter how pop it was, this was a rare moment when she could enjoy the corny lyrics which everyone joked about. " In a country song you lose your girl, your house, your dog and your job all in the same song."

When Dawn arrived at the little country town she unloaded her easel to set it up at the appointed place.   A lady swinging by her commented in the usual dry country way.  “You're late."

Dawn had to smile as she recognized this culture was different from the Pawhuska area and the Billings area. The Pawhuska people were ranchers. They were observant and strong, too, but a bit more wary of mixing with anything a little different–remember the rattlesnakes, skunks and coyotes they lived around.  The Billings people were open, friendly, a culture apart and here were the Tonkawa people of this small college town which was all summed up with this woman's comment.  "You're late."   In other words, "We know you are here, and we are glad to see you."

The little college town was able to gather a good turnout of people, too. The crafts people were lined on both sides of the wide street and the artists were set up in the small pavilion area where the gazebo stood. Farther on down the street a country western band was performing and a little woman singing "Stand By Your Man," which personified the strength of the country women who did, indeed, stand by their men no matter what.

Since the morning was well along,  the warm sun was at her back and she was able to shrug off the nip of the cool fall air. The medium she chose to use  was acrylic in the little flip top bottles which was easy to open and close, protecting  child and pet from tampering with it while painting. She knew this would appeal to  the women who were busy mothers, teachers and workers when even a small tool like this could facilitate their working through a hobby amidst a busy schedule. She was not disappointed in the women artist's interest in how she was able to drop out small amounts of the paint and then close the bottle easily with her left hand and thumb.

The canvas she chose was a circular one stretched on a round  frame with the canvas pulled over the edges. This frees one up from having to buy a frame. The work she designed was that of a dark edge of ultramarine blues and crimson, giving the picture its own frame though irregular brush work  with the dark edges. Inside the painted edge she set long stems of wheat in golden colors. Their beards she was able to complete with a tiny stripping brush and this she noticed the artists were observing as well.

The painting set inside the dark circle of crimson leaves was that of a long flowing wheat field. At the back of the wheat field in a distance were the tall cylinders standing together towering over the countryside as that of the grain elevator she was, indeed, standing below at this time. Dawn was enjoying not only the warmth of the sun on her back but the warmth of the people in this rich little community. It was a place filled with many fine artists who worked diligently all over the country showing their work to a humanity hungry for relief and break from their trial of living, just as has happened all down through the ages.

During the lunch hour,  Dawn strolled down the crafts and vendors table purchasing little trinkets for her children and grandchildren.

The vendor's meal was  a large vegetarian taco she enjoyed while visiting with some of the town's people at the park benches sitting in the middle of the street. The only thing wrong with the day was that the weather was becoming chilly and this would end her opportunity to take these beautiful week-ends for a while.   On the other hand this would give her time to continue the paperwork for preserving the memories of the old ranch house for future generations.


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