"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States



Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Walk in the Flats

Husband was gone last week although he was home for the weekend to celebrate my birthday and Easter before having to head back to DC for a couple of days. While he was gone, they held the funeral service for my friend, Doug. It was a sellout crowd full of shocked and saddened adults with an abundance of teenagers who’d turned out to support the daughters. One person after another eulogized Doug in glowing terms: “greatest legal mind I’ve ever met,” “completely unflappable,” “I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone,” “brilliant,” “kind,” “devoted husband, father, son and friend” and as an Aussie of friend of mone would say, not a word of a lie from any lips.   I found myself muttering in response, "That's right, that's exactly right," like an elderly African American lady in a Baptist church, not doubt irritating the teens who would turn and look at me like I was some sort of oddball.  They are damned lucky I didn't raise my arms to heaven and cry out, "Can I get an Amen?" when someone suggested that Doug would probably ask God if he'd mind letting Doug rewrite the Old Testament to make it more concise (Doug was famous for rewriting everyone's work and making it ten times better - and even the original author would have to admit it.).

Husband came home last night and it is good to have him back.

His birthday is 8 days after mine in the same year. I was a week early and he was a day late, which means we were due on the same day. I always enjoy that. He got his birthday present a few days early. It is a Traditional Les Paul Sunburst.
He already has a Les Paul Clown Burst (which he says is lame) but is happy to have another for his stash. He says he lacks the talent or dedication to be a good guitar player but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a collector.  As a fabric collector, I understand. 

I took a nice walk this morning along the Oklahoma River. Not too many years ago, the Oklahoma River used to be called the North Canadian River and was not much more than a ditch. It regularly flooded after rains and dried to a trickle the rest of the time.  They damned it up, renamed it and it looks tidy, if canal-ish.
I can’t say as I find it pretty. It used to be dirty, shallow and filled with scrubby trees but it was interesting if you liked looking for tracks, critters or vagrants. I am not moved by the uniform sides but do enjoy the long views.

Oklahoma City is roughly divided by the river into two halves.  Traditionally, the southern half of the city was blue collar, and the northern half had the more affluent citizens and the downtown area.   The area around the river, prone to flooding, was known as the flats.  Vagrants, the poor and other people lacking the resources to leave tended to live there in shanties in overgrown and unkept neighborhoods, stray animals in abundance with streets and yards filled with garbage.  Crime rates were high and you didn't want to be in the area near dark.  Or light for that matter.  Many cities have places like that. 

Much of the area I walked in, today, used to be part of the flats.  In the past 10 - 15 years they've cleared out the slums, cleaned up the river, put in hiking trails and patrol it regularly to keep it safe. 
I am certain that to someone raised in the Eastern forests or hills it looks stark and boring. To some raised on the southern plains, it looks like home. The gorgeous trees back east made me ooh and aahh but within minutes, the hair on the back of my neck would raise as if a cougar was about to jump on my back. That kept me on high alert, like I imagine an antelope would feel. The long view and big sky help me relax and feel safe.

Big relieved sigh...
So here I am out where there are few, if any, natural trees left standing along the river and look what I come across.
Those are some serious teeth marks.
It rained, last night, so these claw marks are fresh.
When I see this, I wonder how many beavers lost their habitat when they came in and cleaned up the river. This one, from the looks of the teethmarks, is still pretty robust.  He may be the scariest thing in the flats, these days. 

This is not the best view of the Oklahoma City skyline but it is a nice one.
I crossed under a bridge leading to the Oklahoma City Stockyards.  Here is the arch leading into the Oklahoma City Stockyards taken from the trail by the river.
They've turned it into somewhat of a tourist attraction but the Stockyards still has a lot of authentic western stores, places to get ranchers' supplies and a very nice farmers market. 

Under the bridges crossing the river, you can see swallows’ nests.
The Redbud is the Oklahoma state tree and they are in full bloom.
I’m not a huge fan of the Redbud but the blossoms are pretty for a short time in the spring.

The Scissor-tail Flycatcher is the Oklahoma state bird.
Look at that long tail. When they fly, you wonder how they manage to stay in the air.  They look goofy. 

So after spending a bit of time enjoying a slice of Oklahoma, including the state bird and state tree, and humming a song from the musical whose name is the state song ("Oh what a Beautiful Morning," from OKLAHOMA!), I indulged myself in another state staple – a cheeseburger from Sonic.

Happy Quilting,

Penny, Evelyn and Pearl

1 comment:

Stephanie D. said...

I love the redbud trees when they are in full bloom--especially since they do it when not much else is blooming. I'm fond of their heart-shaped leaves, too.

Having lived in both the Southeastern US and the Southwestern US, I can appreciate both the wide open sky and 50-mile-views, and the curvy, tree-lined country roads. But my heart will always be in Dixie.