Dawn spoke to her husband
with reluctance. The wife broke into his free time while he read the
newspaper "There is something of a problem I don't really know how to
address." She told him. Seems the old family ranch house has become a
place for kids to collect and party. There is the evidence of it as to the
trash they leave behind. It is quite destroyed too, I understand. We
personally no longer own the place, but there is a certain responsibility
as to the leaving of it open for such use. This goes to a community
problem as well. Everyone knows our family and to me it is an
embarrasement. Probably, at least, we should check into the situation.
"When?" came the short and
quick usual response Pete was known to use.
"As soon as possible," Dawn
was asking. "This week-end?"
"No, can't, I have promised
Before she continued the
conversation she picked up the calendar and put it before her husband.
He studied it, marking off
with notes as he went, "It won't be until the first of June."
"Great!" She tried not to
be disappointed. "Problem is by then the grass will be up to the roof,
the ticks will be out, the rattlesnakes and probably chiggers enough to
deter an army".
"Get Yardguard, Off, tall
boots, and sulfur powder, arrange for a lawn mower and chain saw, you will
have plenty of time to do all that." Pete grinned and was back to his
immediate chore on the computer and to his newspaper. Left unsaid was his
true feelings about the area. However, the instructions made a statement
of their own. There was no sentamentality or feelings of duty to the area
on his part. He had been raised in the oil community and his loyalties
remained at that place. Too, the realities of their income came from this
locale and one was forced to stay involved with the forces who supported
"Oh boy! What a drag."
Dawn grumbled with no malice. It's like waiting for a vacation to simply
get only sixty miles from here. "Oh well, that is the way it is 'headin'
west." She closed the subject with her usual fatalistic acceptance of
Days went to weeks, weeks
to months and at the right time Dawn was not to be put off any longer.
"The tallgrass is calling, and I want to see the buffalo. If I can take my
cam corder over for filming them maybe we can swing over by the old ranch
house too? How can I draw and paint a buffalo with any kind of accuracy
when I don't have a subject to study?"
Pete wasn't anywhere near
anxious to go on a foray over and through the tallgrass prairie but he
knew Dawn would give him no peace until he accommodated her wish. "We can
do it this week-end," he told her.
Dawn was unbelieving but in
no way making any comments which could spoil the opportunity. When the
week-end arrived she was ready with camera, plenty of film, armed with a
new book on buffalo, carefully read through and through.
car was moving in a climb to a higher climate at such slow progress, she
felt, it was not noticed they were, indeed, coming to a difference in
height as far as topography was concerned. Slowly, so slowly they wound
their way up to and through what was most certainly unending grassland.
When they came upon the first group of buffalo what an incredible sight it
was. The worry of daily stressed out living, the pushing toward self set
goals, the jumping to the needs of the family and community all fell away
with that first glimpse of the powerful, medieval looking beasts. There
were parts of herds on the far hills and these Dawn could pick up with the
camera bringing them up to a rare closeness allowing an audience to
observe their tromping, tossing of their heads, and eternal grazing on the
As much as they wanted to
linger time was ever a factor and they had to continue with their trip.
They followed the road through the lonely sentinels of pumping oil wells.
Their's was a pumping, thumping out a rhythm to entertain nothing and no
one. Nevertheless, they were strong in their intent to bring the precious
fluid up from the depths of the earth so folks could travel these
distances maybe simply to gawk at their endeavors.
At the edge of the oil
field, across the road was the old cemetery setting to one side. They
didn't stop and only the camera picked one of the very large marker close
to her Uncle and his family's plot. The very large natural stone marked
the resting place of the Head family with one word, “Head,” cut from
metal and bolted to the big rock. These folks had pioneered the
wonderfully delicious bar-b-que sauce sold far and near to all who loved
the taste of the west on their beef.
A few minutes more and they
were in a little town. Foraker, Oklahoma once thriving, was now just
there for a few families. The old church still remained and was in good
shape. The camera moved over what had been her family's town house, with
turned over cement steps and a cement cellar remaining, nothing else.
There was a lonely shrub of a tree left close to a barbed wire fence line.
Only memories remained in Dawn's mind of rose bushes, Holly Hocks, Trumpet
vines and a mown lawn. What was there now was simply the grass of the
Osage, rough and scraggly but triumphant and not softened by delicate
blossoms of color from any other cultivated sources.
The car picked up speed on
the flat roads and as they moved more rapidly along. Dawn remembered the
many times she had traveled this same road, first as a child and then as a
girl and finally as a young married woman. When they turned to go up the
more narrow trail toward the old ranch place a large snake scooted across
the road as if he was accustomed to having to hurry. It reminded Dawn of
the comic road runner in a constant need for speedy travel. The varmints
survived in this area but certainly they knew their place and were out of
the way in a hurry, most usually. The gate to the ranch where her nephew
lived was open and at Dawn's request Pete pulled the car through it. She
was always anxious to visit with them and now by chance the little family
Dawn's nephew had worked hard to renew the buildings of the old German
immigrant's home once owned by his grand uncle. The bloodline was
obviously there since everything was as clean and neat as those folks were
known to be. There was a warmth about the place coming from having been
settled for such a period of time. Set here in the middle of the prairie
these pioneers had not only survived but had prospered themselves as well
as the multitude of people who enjoyed the fruits of their labor in the
way of beef and prairie hay to feed the animals.
"Don't run over the
hamburgers," Dawn made a bad joke and worse yet, laughed at her own bad
Her laughter died in her
throat as they pulled up to the old house where once her family had lived.
. "The trees, the trees, all these thorn trees! I just can't believe it.
Look how they are growing up against the house and the foundation. It is
just a crime and I hate it!" Dawn was so hurt by the looks of it. She
pulled her camera out again and began to move it about the place in order
to pick up the ruins of it. She kept the camera rolling and didn't stop
even when her heart hurt with the sight of it. There was plaster from the
walls and ceiling all over the floor. The windows were all out, broken to
pieces, the doors were off. One or two place in the floor was rotting out
from being exposed to the rain through the open roof.
"I can't bear it," her
mind was saying, but she didn't dare speak, because she did not want her
voice to be picked up on the audio part of her camera. She was like a
woman possessed, pushing from one room to another, looking with her camera
at the sights she didn't want to see.