As sure as the rain sweeps
over the flat lands of Oklahoma the heat in waves did too. It covers
everything with a blanket. Oppressive heat smothers people, animals,
insects and birds with inactivity or sometimes, hyperactivity. Everything,
even vegetation, searches for a moment of relief.
During those days the early
family would flee to the cooler climate of Colorado. Today, the flight was
simply to the confines of air-conditioning. Either escape was alike. The
anger of insects was evident with bees ready to sting. The oppressive
gripping of days, bearing down heat, continued on into the night. Now,
fear of ozone holes for excessive radiation gave them a need to hide away
from the sun. Some did brave the misery because of their need to work at a
job for salary.
Determined outdoor people
were always aware of the baked brown, dead grass, which had been once so
beautifully green. There were other unpleasant, uncomfortable, scenes, like
the zipping about of those tiny creatures. Wasps and bees, were tormented
too from having to search for water, where there was none. Even the birds
could have a crazed appearance about them with feathers ruffled, zooming in
and out at anyone or anything. Cats were mostly their victim. Sometimes
Gramma did not escape their zooming aggression in the yard. Immediately
around the house, the placing of small vessels of water and the seeing to
it they were always there cut down on some of the nonsense of suffering for
small things. This gave larger things freedom from attack. The neighbors
cat is running in a creeping position across the yard with her ears down,
and all at the same time frantically stopping for a moment to look toward
the sky. This is a pretty good indication the birds are not happy. They
are thirsty and overheated.
For a few more weekends Dawn
and Pete were able to escape to the higher altitude of the ranch house area
where the wind always blows and the wide stretches of prairie gives the
breezes a coolness a little like air-conditioning. The loneliness of the old
home place was what Dawn sought to let her become free from the eternal
jangle of the telephone. The quiet of the far out place allowed her to put
total concentration to a canvas.
would not allow this freedom for any length of time and those things
combined with the increasing tormenting weather caused them to need to walk
away, once again, from the old property.
"This place and I are alike,"
Dawn laughed. "We get a little shabbier as each day goes by."
Anyway, she wanted to do some
research on the old stone wall. Dawn began to comb the places where she
could learn about the old rock wall. At first there was nothing and then all
at once with the help of a friendly librarian she was given a connection to
open up the greatest amount of knowledge one could ever wish to have. The
halls of higher learning in Scotland and England were rich with the
teaching of these old crafts. It wasn't just a minor thing. It was a rich
field touching into all phases of agriculture, ecology, geology, masonry,
"Did you know that rock walls
change the eco-system of an area. This is the reason for all that "flora and
fauna," about the old place, and that in the middle of the prairie.
Apparently, the rocks cool the ground in the summer and heat it in the
winter. Dad brought the cattle there in the winter against that old wall. I
suppose he had the first feed lot in Oklahoma. In the spring he drove the
males out to the pasture and left the heifers close so they could calve
while being protected from the elements. It was where they could be
watched; therefore, the profit of a good calf crop was assured. Did dad know
all this when he put the wall up? If he knew, where did he learn it?”
"You know your Dad, he
probably researched everything within reach." Pete had known her father
too, for many years.
"Well, possibly.” Dawn also
remembered her father's determination to work through a project. “Do you
think some of those Scottish and Irish grandparents could have taught him
"I don't doubt it a bit."
Pete responded. Dawn smiled to herself. He too had been recipient of Lee's
gentle but steady direction, she knew from his answer.
"You know the thing that has
helped me the most about this, I thought I had lost that connection with
Dad's folks, but in corresponding with people in Scotland via the computer I
felt at home again, like with family. They, have laws that say the old walls
cannot be destroyed. There is an organized society which has its own crest
under the crown. They have schools to teach the young folks so the art of
"dry walling" is not lost. The very most I can get out of it is simply that
no matter what one has, even just rocks off the prairie, do something with
it. I always thought Dad was joking when he said, "take nothing and do
something with it. You can't lose with old man right."
Meanwhile, back in town,
there was the ever continuing saga of small town politics. Dawn had to
respect this too when one of the younger brilliant men made the comment,
"You know, in Europe a person is imprisoned for destroying any kind of
artwork. Isn't a house a work of art? Why should that destruction be allowed
to go on? What is the difference in any form of art?"
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