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Donna Flood
Oh No! Not Locust Trees!

Locust TreeThis Sunday morning late in April and the fragrance of the locust trees rested romantically like over the yard. There was not only the sweet smell but, there was also, the very large clusters of hanging, white blossoms greeting any who walked across the early spring scene. It was only twenty-six years ago when we stood around the back end of a pick up truck in order to purchase the thirty-six-inch sticks they were then. The state was offering the trees at an unbelievable price of eighteen dollars for one hundred trees. The trees were offered to country people with spaces to fill in order to try to stop eroding hillsides. If there was ever an eroding hill side, it was hers. There was a small choice of pine trees, mulberry, locust and some others equally as unpopular in ranching areas. The serious minded farmers of the area did not intimidate Donna. She knew their out ward rough appearance was deceitful. They could be anything from what they appeared to be up and unto a Senator. Certainly, they covered all the ground where they stood. However, it was in a meek friendly way. She did not fit into the group but, they didn't seem to notice or mind her presence there.

"Say Girl! You aren't going to plant those Locust trees are you? Her Dad was an old time rancher to the bone. "They are miserable trees, you know." " Thorns, Hateful thorns on them!" "Surely, you will think again about it."

Usually, when their Dad spoke, it was to give them "leeway" to make their own decisions. He was a heavy advocate for freedom, and he practiced what he believed. With this knowledge of the man as he was a younger person, she did not comment, one way or another. She simply went ahead with the planting.

Two hundred holes in wet cold ground later, Donna came into the house after slipping out of her mud boots. She, with little grace, dropped into an easy chair, too exhausted to move. At that moment the front door swung open and it was her mother-in-law who came walking into the house. The woman always looked like she had stepped out of the door of a beauty shop and, or, the door of the local dress shop. If Donna was a little overcome by the power of the woman's appearance, she was too tired to feel anything, much less, to complain about it. Her own wind whipped hair, grubby hands, mud speckled clothes she shrugged away with a cool detachment.

As the trees began to grow there was, indeed, the hated thorns. A hoe handle run along the trunk of the trees knocked them away and gradually they began to shoot upwards, thorn free. The yearly pruning of low branches also added to a more dignified appearance for the lowly thorn tree.

This pruning brought her home from the most beautiful surrounding of Dallas, Texas. They lived there in an area setting on the shores of a wide lake. When spring approached Donna's mind was pulled to the acre setting on top of a dry, hard, red clay, bank in Oklahoma where struggling, ugly thorn trees were trying to take their place there.

"I must get home," Donna told her husband. "The trees need to be pruned." Her husband sometimes looked at her like she had two heads, but he would not deter her when she had made a decision. So it was, she returned to Oklahoma, pruned the trees, and stayed with her father until his death.

Spring was upon them once again. The Locust trees were blooming their drooping white blossoms when Donna's mother walked into the house. She had a small bundle under her arm and wordlessly she set the package in the middle of the kitchen table.

"Your Locust trees are in bloom. They, sure smell sweet. You know your Dad didn't want you to plant those."

"I know. I hated to disappoint him on that part of things." "Why I went ahead with planting them, I will never know." " I had no idea the thorns would eventually be stopped from growing by knocking them off the trunks." "As far as their blooming those beautifully hanging blossoms, this was a surprise to me, also." " The only thing I was thinking about was that they only cost me eighteen dollars."

"What is in the package?" Donna was curious.

"Well, I don't know if you remember the old photographs Dad was always so protective over?"

"Of course, Mother! He was so careful of those photographs. "I always loved to look at them."

"Well, I'm sure he would have wanted you to have them." Donna's mother was offering them to her.

"Oh Mother! Are you sure?"

The little Native American woman was by no means slow. She was "quick witted" and had survived through her ability to think on her feet. "You will do something with them," she said.

"Even if it is just to frame some of them for your home."

When she was alone, Donna began to pull the photographs from their little tin box. Some of these she recognized of people's names on the back wrote at her father's dictation.

"Well, Dad," she spoke to his remembrance, "I guess you found a way to keep me busy and out of the sorrow of having to say good-byes to you. I'm sorry about the Locust trees, but I do wish you could enjoy their fragrance this spring."

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