Life on the Prairie

“Prairie is a word that calls out to me. It is grass and wildflowers, crops, cattle grazing and hawks circling in the blue. Oceanic––filled to the brim with life, light, and undulating wind-stirred waves.”

c.e. hollis

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An early morning foggy pasture with a single tree. It is quiet and full of sound at the same time––bird song, crickets, treehoppers, treefrogs, tractor in distance rumbling, wind, coyotes yipping, screen door banging closed, cow mooing, crow caw, pickup truck passing…

DSC_2198Leavenworth Eryngo looks like thistle but is a prairie wildflower. The leaves look like hands reaching out. It is a prickly poking handshake––very unfriendly. The top spikes are the flower petals, the bulb is seed, the lower spikes are the leaves. I found this patch near an old abandoned house.

DSC_2292Stormy sky in the afternoon sky. Thunderstorms in the early evening are sketchy and pass quickly.  Below same sky minutes later. Often we are entertained by “heat lightning” that flashes almost constantly, without th like God playing with lights flicking them on and off in the skies all around.

zcRoHMW3QUqx08np9LhOKA_thumb_105cfDSC_2202Abandoned home places are slowly but surely reclaimed by the prairie. Weeds, vines, briers, thistles, trees, and grass over take and pull down the uninhabited. Mice, owls,   armadillos, insects, barn swallows, wind, heat, cold, trespassers, and wind work together.

1%gSKR6OT4Cb%a%uAjMg3w_thumb_105ddFood for animals, birds, and for mankind grows in the glorious sunlight and soil. Trees love the rivers and the creek banks. Cottonwoods, oaks , hickories, pawpaws,  wild pears, persimmon, walnuts, and native pecan trees. These are just a few that produce nuts, fruits, and berries.

DSC_2341The cicada lives underground for 4 to 20 years, then digs out and leaves his “armor” behind on fence posts and tree trunks and lays eggs in the wood. (The eggs hatch and larve head underground.) On green lace wings, the liberated parent insect flies and lives out his final three weeks as a percussion instrument.

DSC_2365Spiders claim every fence row. they build their webs across pathways, porch supports, from plant top to grass top––everywhere. Dripping with dew or caught in sunlight, they are works of art.

As horses and cows leave hairs on barbed wire. The birds use the hairs in weaving strong nests. The oriole is one that makes a nest of hair and fibers of all sorts which hangs from a branch like a soft basket woven of baby sweater yarn. DSC_2392UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_10626Old pipes and such turn up here and there and makes me wonder who or what was once here on the farm that is “GONE AND NOW FORGOTTEN.”

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Blazing stars add color to the green. Buttterflies love them. So do I!tt6t2NxES%ifbRAj68rSUQ_thumb_10214

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Scissortail Flycathchers balance on power lines and fences. We are serenaded by birds meadowlarks, mockingbirds,  Eastern Phoebes, bluebirds, jays, cardinals, wrens, sparrows, and chickadees. Often we hear owls, hawks, crows, ravens, blackbirds, woodpeckers, finches, doves, ducks, geese, and cuckoos. The sound is as sweet as the wind in the grasses.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_105dcThese pears ripening in the fall are sweet and good. I’ve canned bushels of them. The two pear trees were planted here at least ninety years ago by an oil field worker.  An elderly man came by one day and told me that he had once lived on this farm when oil field equipment and oil well management work was done here. His father had planted two pear trees which he remembers eating pears from. His father paid for the delivery of a baby with a milk cow. They moved away when he was five.

The oil field equipment, salt wells, the “truck” farm, the sorghum once farmed on this piece of land, and the turkeys raised here, two old barns, the water cistern,  water well are gone.

The house that the elderly man told me about is gone, only some bricks in a square remain under the topsoil and grass. The era of children riding to school on a mule’s back and of paying for a baby delivery with a milk cow are long past.

The tree still gives us pears and the prairie still tells us its stories.

 

©Elece Hollis 2019

The Yellow of Prairie Autumn

“Sunlight stored up, soaked up by the surface of the fields and meadows must find its way back to the wide wonderful sky. So at the end of summer the yellow, orange, and bits of gold burst from buds and reach for the heavens.”

c.e.hollis

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Along the dusty roads bold splashes of yellow like bundles of golden crowns wave with happiness to all who pass by. They are members of a committee announcing cooler days of autumn coming––indeed––just around the bend.

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Coneflowers in their flowing swirling yellow tutus sway to the music of grasshopper fiddlers. They entertain caterpillars, bees, and butterflies and then invite them to join in the dance.

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Every field is overflowing––swimming with yellow friendly flowers.

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Sunflowers glow in ditches and thrive in forsaken gardens. They raise their faces high above the grasses afield and butterflies work over, around, and among them. All the pinks and purples, the reds, blues, and the whites seem to be gone, but in September yellow is ubiquitous.

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Yellow Sunflowers and Delightful Cows

Brown-eyed Susans, aster, and tickseed, daisies, goldenrod, sneezeweed, gum plant, golden coreopsis and the dancing coneflowers fill the landscape and give all their leftover sunlight back. It is a parade of bright sunshine that marches glowing on green stems and swaying in the autumn breezes.

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img_3932Golden petals soon will fade and leaves turn their reds, yellows, and oranges. Fall will have arrived. Leaves will be swept up into crunchy heaps for children to run, jump, and play in them before the bonfires send in bright flames the glorious sunlit color of summer’s end to the sky.

©Elece Hollis 2019

 

 

 

Cows Cooling Off on a Hot Summer Day

For every beast of the forest is Mine,

The cattle on a thousand hills.

I know every bird of the mountains,

And everything that moves in the field is mine.

If I were hungry I would not tell you,

For the world is Mine, and all it contains.

 Psalm 50:10

The sky is clear and the heat immeasurable. The weather forecaster says “97 degrees, but feels like 118.” Yes, he is right. It is a wickedly hot Oklahoma day in late August.

Cows go to the ponds and wade out into the water  to cool off.

Then they find shade––any small bit of shade. Maybe a fence line batch of gnarly old locust trees, a native pecan, or just a smudge of Johnson grasses and thistle. They find shade and lie still and quiet until evening and the heat passes.

Dusk falls with cicadas thrumming their waves of sizzly humming––the music of evening.

dsc_1173iFJIhbGXT7S7JVvadmiewA_thumb_104581ZFctJ6lQfWi7%rPmC6YPg_thumb_10453UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_10456UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1045edgC%j0eiSoeZ9c0CBJpknA_thumb_1045fDSC_1920UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_10455Water is the lifesaver. Water to drink and water to soak and cool off in. Water, even if it is warm itself, can cool. The cows wade out into the pond and stand. No flies bother them for a while. No buzzing and stinging horseflies. Water brings relief.

Shade, though it may be hard to come by in a pasture, is another lifesaver. The cows lie down in the grasses and wait for evening. They watch for the farmer’s truck to bring feed and they look up fearfully at me and my camera. They moo mournfully and with a rocking for leverage they rise to their hooves and head down to the water.

Dragonflies perch along the barbed wire fences and watch for gnats in their little flying swarms. Then they flit and fly to fill up on them.

Birds sometimes sit along the fences too watching for insects to eat. Somedays a hawk sits in the orange-blossoming trumpet vines that climb to tops of the telephone poles. They watch for rabbits and field mice. Cattle egrets look out of place with their white elegant feathers stalking silently along beside the cows.

Bees buzz and bumble in the wildflowers––sunflowers, gum plants, asters, Queen Anne’s lace, thistle, wild roses, and honeysuckle. The air is heavy, but perfumed and it does something good to a person’s achy bones to be out in it. It does something good to a man’s soul to watch God’s creatures in a heat drenched life-filled pasture.