|There were a couple of nice rains here in October, and the winter wheat that the farmers had planted in September came up green, bright, and thick. The vibrant fall colors on the creek bottoms intersect the green wheat fields and brown ochre pastures. Every fencerow, every creek is highlighted with dramatic flourish. Even the red cedars offer a contrast in color from blue-green to blue, to burnt orange to red. The first frost came about the middle of the month, finishing off the gardens, as the weather fronts switched to the northwest from Colorado, and we had to reluctantly close our windows at night. The days are getting shorter and the squirrels are collecting pecans, the turkeys are scratching up the wheat fields, and the ducks and geese are flying high overhead in great Vs. I like getting out and walking along the creek bottoms. It reminds me of when I was young, and floated “boats”, which were really just sticks along the creek, fascinated with the quiet pools and faster water. I am still fascinated now. I look now at the rocks, for the promise of fossils. I love the way the water has rubbed the iron rock smooth and pitted them in bizarre ways. I look in the eroded red banks, knowing that some day I will see an ancient buffalo scull sticking out after the last rain. In Oklahoma City, rich people pay thousands to put rocks like these in their backyards and in their fishponds. I guess if I counted the rocks on my farm I am a millionaire, but I don’t think the banker will see it that way. But the real treasure is finding the tracks of raccoons, coyotes, and deer amongst the huge pecans and oaks, along the game trails carpeted in fallen leaves of gold. I like to find where the animals cross the creeks, and stopped and drank. I love to hear the turkeys as they go to roost in their secret hiding places.
I was told when I bought the old Oklahoma State Bank Building that Indians from a Indian school in Kansas came down after the land run and cut stone, fitted and built many of the buildings in Mulhall. The only two left are the bank building and the old Methodist Church on the hill. The craftsmanship displayed is a testimony of a former century, (1894), and the men that lived then. We don’t see many buildings like that anymore. We don’t work that hard, nor do we teach that kind of stone-masonry anymore. I can’t help but think of the young Indians who were being assimilated into a new culture, building banks and churches. I wonder how they felt cutting the red stone from the banks of Beaver Creek. Did they feel foolish somehow? Did they feel that it was insulting to the stone that had been put there by the Great Spirit, to be cutting it into squares? Raised to respect the land, and love nature, were they full of despair seeing their way of life disappear? When they finished building did they admire their work or did they think it was too proud, a monument to a life they would never know?
Walking the creek on my little farm I wonder what our monuments will be. Will they look at a Ford pickup truck as a monument to our century? Will future generations admire our craftsmanship? Sometimes I feel like those Indians working so hard to build monuments for others, and I feel a similar despair. I do what I have to do to feed my family. But in my mind, I share their dreams, I see the deer and coyote pause in the moonlight to drink down at the creek, and for me it is enough to be like them; free. Leaving a muddy footprint in the creek bottom as I pause to look around in my walk through this life.