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The rewards of surviving the hard winters in Oklahoma
The cold that captured the month of February lost a little of its grip on the last week of the month. The ice melted on the ponds, and the ducks were gracefully mobile again. The snow disolved into the winter wheat, and the green exploded in vibrant contrast with the dormant prairie grass. The cattle once again ordained the hillsides like dark gems, soaking up the tepid sunlight, eagerly searching for some early rye grass. We burned up most of the wood we cut for the wood stove, and Papa and I have to go out and cut some more. March wont lure me again into a lazy optimism, like the pear trees; I know that one more blizzard likely lies ahead. Those who issue their buds too early are likely to see another hard freeze dashing their early blooms in this country. And so we keep on our guard, and keep our optimism in check. I took the calves to the sale barn finally, after almost two months of delay because of the cold and snow. I kept back two bull calves and three nice heifers, as my mama cows are starting to get a little old. I am loyal to my mama cows and they will die here serenely on the farm. They won’t see the slaughter house after 10 years of faithful service. Their bones will be scattered among the cedars down in the canyons, like their buffalo cousins before them. Jane and Papa are sad to see me load up the calves remembering and enjoying the sight of the calves when they were small and full of joy, running in the pasture. We decided to all go with the calves to the Oklahoma City Stockyards, and the twins were amazed with the all the “Ka Cows,” as they call them. We said our goodbyes to the calves as they disappeared into the maze of slamming gates and yelling men. It is a hard life here in Oklahoma; we are blessed or cursed however you want to look at it. Our winters are hard and unforgiving, and our summers will bake your brains. Drought, blizzards, floods, all test our faith. And every once in a while tornadoes come through and wipe the earth of our best endeavors. But we are assuaged by our best memories of spring and fall. We are allowed to savor the gentle spring breeze through our open windows at night and are awakened by the sublime song of the mockingbird. We can listen to the doves call from the cottonwood tree and watch the ducks land at the pond, as we drink in the most spectacular sunsets. And later after supper we can walk out in the pasture and wonder at the Milky Way, and be amazed each time we see it. We are bent by the relentless wind here, but are rewarded by the sound of it in the cedar trees. We are limited by the weather, and our best gardens are ravaged by the bugs and critters no matter how hard we work. But we always end up tasting a few tomatoes and harvesting some delicious vegetables. It seems to be enough. The fight however, is never ending. Somehow we survive our seasons, and work and raise our children, and if God is good to us, we are allowed to prosper. Storms come and go and do their damage, and each season, some of us don’t survive. Our friendships are born of many seasons together. Up on the hillside the graveyard is full of best friends who were born here, lived here all their lives, and died here, together even still. My friends and family here are the same. We will pass the years and share our victories and defeats, and share these simple pleasures together, and like the cows and the deer that walked with us for this brief time, we will mix our bones together in these red dirt canyons and be alive again in the sound of the wind in the cedars, and the tall grass prairie.
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