“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.”
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…
Leavenworth 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.
Stormy 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.
Abandoned 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.
Food 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.
The 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.
Spiders 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. Old 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.”
Blazing stars add color to the green. Buttterflies love them. So do I!
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.
These 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