From the scissortail flycatcher to the domesticated chicken, from the ruby throated hummingbird to the Canada goose, Oklahoma plays host to many beautiful birds. We have the palliated woodpeckers, sparrows, wrens, goldfinches and mourning doves, bald eagle, and the red-tailed hawk.
We hear the great horned owl, the screech owl, and the barred owls of an evening. We watch for flocks of brown-headed cowbirds in the fall to sweep and swirl above the pastures. We see the beautiful snowy egrets in the pastures too eating the flies that cows whip with their tails. Crows lord it over the orchard waiting for pecans. Grackles and starlings whistle in the grocery store parking lots.
We listen to the plaintive rain crow the cuckoo and mourning doves. We watch house wrens and barn swallows build nests under our porch roofs. We see ducks of all sorts floating in our farm ponds and geese in the parks come for bread.
Hummers fight at our feeders. Brown creepers clean insects from the bark of our sycamore trees. Martins eat up gnats and mosquitoes. Kingfishers and night hawks do their part. Goldfinches in their bright yellow feathers feast on dandelions. Bluebirds build nests in our boxes. Cardinals brighten our winter days. House finches add a touch of rose. Mockingbirds are the music stars imitating all the others.
Wild turkeys stalk in parade lines across the meadow. Guinea hens babble and run helter-skelter when a car passes. Road runners and killdeer like the gravel roads. Carolina chickadees and sparrows of every ilk come to the feeders for millet and sunflower seeds. Juncos are tiny roly-poly black sparrows. Others and striped and brown.
A Copper’s hawk wheels above. Turkey buzzards patrol for carrion. Robins hop, hop, hop across the lawn in spring. Red-winged blackbirds come to the feeders in the fall. They make a “too- de-lee” sound like water dripping into a bucket.
A heat blue heron or a white heron stalks through water of shallow ponds and hunts for supper. When they fly their great wings spread and their long legs trail out behind them. A northern flicker feasts on the apple tree wood. Red headed, downy, hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers come here too.
A nuthatch in a neat swanky blue and black band uniform searches for bugs on tree bark.Tanagers and orioles prefer the quieter places in the woods away from people and traffic.
My favorite in the meadowlark who sits the barbed wire fence and sings. He’s a large beautiful bird with a yellow chest and a dark black V on its neck like a choir robe stole.Blue jays liven the terrain with their color. So the Eastern blue bird and the indigo and painted buntings.
There is almost no end to the list of bright and beautiful birds found in the state of Oklahoma. Birdwatching is a great pastime on the farm and one I enjoy everyday.
One hot dusty afternoon, August 9, 1927, in Payson, Oklahoma, a baby girl was born and the world became a sweeter place.
Her mother, Monte Michael, named the child Freda, after her daddy, Fred Michael a grocer who was respected and loved by many friends and neighbors in the tiny rural town of Tribbey, Oklahoma.
Tribbey is mostly gone now––just an intersection of two dirt roads is all that’s left, but the baby girl lived a big life. Freda grew up in a happy home where laughter bubbled quickly to the surface and where songs were sung and children played safe and healthy even through the depression. Monte fed her eight children well. They had poke salat, fried chicken, home baked bread. tomatoes, and snapbeans.
Freda learned to cook and sew. Sewing turned out to be her thing––her specialty. She was able to sew wedding dresses for her own sisters and for herself. Later, the family moved to Houston, Texas where Freda fell in love and married Larry Brink.
I remember Mama standing in a sunny laundry room at the ironing board pressing and folding clothes for my sister Nan and I to pack for summer Bible camp. I can smell the damp steamed cloth and starch heated by the iron that left the clothes crisp and beautiful. We weren’t wealthy, but Mama sewed new clothes for us for every occassion, so we had new clothes more often than most.
When I went to the formal junior/senior banquet in highschool, Mama sewed me a full length purple dress with a solid purple skirt and solid bodice covered with a silky sheer material of white and purple flowers. I felt like spring. During my college years she sewed me a dress with a full gathered skirt. The color was a burnt orange overlaid with a sheer cloth with raised velvety leaves. I was a maple tree in autumn. Later, when I married Ron, she made my wedding dress.
When she grew old, too tired, and too trembly of hand to thread her old Singer, she’d sit with a basket of scraps in her lap and produce dolls and stuffed animals for lucky children. Her stitches were made with excellence, creativity and a heart for people.
Mama––how I do miss her! Sometimes I am struck suddenly with a pang of grief and I take a minute or two to cry a few tears and to think what a good woman she was. I have written a small book of memories, quotes, favorite Bible verses, and stories of Mama Freda. It’s called Life With Mama. Get a copy and I think you will learn what made her such a truly marvelous mama. And you will miss her too.