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American History
Osage Highlanders - Chapter 8


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.

Dominating circumstances 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, craftsmanship.

"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 too?”

"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?"

“All good questions.”  Dawn thought


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