Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I drove into Southern Oklahoma to deliver a load of dog food. The next pickup I got was not too far away. I decided to cut across the countryside rather than take Interstate. The Interstate would have been faster, but the Scrub was less miles. No one will know, and backroads are good for the soul.
Back in the Scrub in Oklahoma, everyone from Gentleman Farmers driving Cadillacs to Dirt Farmers in shotgun shacks and mobile homes has horses. If there was ever a choice between the horse or the car, they would cancel the insurance and put the car at the end of the driveway with a sign in the window.
I passed a small place with 10 or 12 head of cattle. The gigantic bull watching over them all, looked up as I passed. Grandma always said pigs were smarter than cows. Something about how close together their eyes are. I wrote about a mean old wild hog. This bull was meaner. A ridge over his eyes, this bull seemed to scowl. He appraised my truck and me. I could tell he thought: "Yeah, I could take you."
Oklahoma has several Indian Nations. I spent the night at the Choctaw Casino and Conoco Truck Plaza. There was a young girl at the counter. She was beautiful; exquisitely shiny black hair, high cheek bones, those doe eyes. When she opened her mouth to speak, I was transported . . . to a mall! She was just an American teenager at heart. She discovered the Tums I was buying had already been opened. "That's so gross," she said; sounding more like my midwestern nieces than Pocahantas. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't 'mallteenese.'
For all the political correctness surrounding sports team names and such, the Oklahoma Indian Country is full of similar depictions. The Big Chief Truckstop in Big Cabin, OK has an Indian Chief standing at the drive. It has to be 50 feet tall. I'm not sure that any Indians own the truckstop, but mom and pop businesses and tourist traps all over have Indian Symbology in their logos and signs. I do know that Indians own the Choctaw Casino where I slept the other night. The souvenir aisle looked about the same at either stop.
The lone tree on a ridge in the big prairie is quintessential. There is something romantic about such a tree. Some are twisted and gnarled by exposure to the prairie wind. There are other ridgelines with a row of trees across them. The corrugated metal outbuilding about halfway up the hill; just beyond it is the majestic tree. Perhaps a horse is standing in the shade of a shed.
It must be work for that tree to stay where it is. If it was easy for a tree to be there, wouldn't there be several? That tree is standing in defiance of the thrashing weather of all the seasons. The lone defiant Prairie Tree reminds me of one of my favorite paintings. The Weeds, whom I used to work for, were patrons of the arts. The company lobby was like a small gallery. One painting that held a prominent position, was of a couple cowboys on horseback. It is winter. A snowy hill is behind them as they ride through the drifts on the prairie. They are looking over your left shoulder. Something is amiss. The cowboy in the foreground is starting to pull his rifle from its saddle holster. There is danger, but they are prepared to face it. I always thought that painting was the perfect analogy for a small businessman.
This morning I had a spectacular sunrise in big sky country. The sun began to rise and colored the entire eastern horizon. To the north and south on the outer fringe, the purple and deep red stay on. Toward the east, oranges and pinks, and finally yellows, burn in the sky. I am passing Lake Eufaula. The catspaws, patches of the wind's texture on the lake, shine in a brilliant light blue color. It is almost a translucent turquoise. The glass smooth areas of the lake burn with the colors of the sunrise. Islands are almost black. The trees and rocks are cut sharp like silhouettes in black felt on a mirror. The lake is a sprawling reservoir and matches the great sky on fire. The lake runs beside me for 20 or 30 miles. Not just truckdrivers, but how many people, in general, go through life looking at their shoes. Look Up! Look Around! Breathe! Absorb! Relax a minute for Pete's Sake!!!