This is what my Oklahoma looks like in the late, late summer when fall waits just around the bend in the gravel road. Cows graze in overgrown pastures, squared off with barbed wire fences and littered with yellow wildflowers, sunflowers, sneeze-weed, and goldenrod. Honeysuckle vines, trumpet vines, wild roses, and blackberry’s prickly bushes sprawl along the fence tops, smother posts, and climb telephone poles.
The land is flat enough here to see for a long ways over the stubbly field where corn stalks and soybeans dry to the hazy low-lying hills in the distance that surround us.
You may only see one cow in this picture but Oklahoma’s countryside is full of life. There are pastures of cattle––black and white Holstein, Texas Longhorns, red and white Herefords, milky white Charolais, Black Angus and red, and the humpback Brahmas. Bison, like shaggy brown ghosts from the past, graze here. Sheep and goats fill smaller enclosures. Mules, donkeys and Sicilian donkeys, act as herd guardians. Horses race across the pastures, their tails flying behind them in the wind, or quietly graze––their tails lazily swatting at flies.
Herons stalk in the farm pond and egrets flollow the cows. Crows strut along, caw at the world, all of which they seem to be at odds with. Owls perch in trees that grow along the meandering creek beds. They wait for the darkness to settle in to call.
Sparrows, martins, meadowlarks, doves, quail, and prairie hens, blue birds, mockers and hummers––innumerable birds sit on fence posts, builds nests, swoop through the air, searching always for their food from God. The eagle nests in solitary craggy old trees. The hawk draws his lazy circles, not unlike the buzzard who circles searching for the dead and the dying.
The air, the grass, the flowers and the trees are full of buzzing honey bees, bumblebees, ants, cicadas, flies, gnats, ticks, wasps, worms, spiders, and hornets. Furry caterpillars creep and crawl and busy themselves about becoming moths and butterflies.
Coyotes slink across the pastures and field and down along the creek beds, like the guilty creatures they are. They wait for night to gather and howl in the moonlight––a joyous, raucous and amazing noise! Rabbits, armadillos, skunks, rodents, bobcats, mice and rats, otters, beavers, lizards, snakes, and frogs all have their places, their spaces in this world.
Children, birds, and cowboys have stopped to gather blackberries on fence rows, Now the berries are eaten or presrved for winter cobblers. The wild plum thicket at the ungrazed edges of pastures has long since been emptied. Wild pears and black walnuts too. Farmwives, deer, raccoons, and possums have gathered persimmons, wild grapes, pecans, and the last of garden produce.
It is not lonely or desolate––this land––it’s teeming with life, every square foot of it.
The sun that baked the land all summer now sets earlier every day sinking in gold and purple and cerise behind the humble hills. It is enough to make you want to sing out loud to the wonderful sky!