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Donna's Journal
Second Leg of the Osage 3-12-05

      “The roads are not graded. Brother used to do that.  I wonder what will happen to these roads now?”

       We drove quickly away from his home. Occasionally the bottom of the car was scraped on  high center with a gritty grinding sound of rock on metal. We traveled over the low water bridge. The flat cement structure was concave and directly on the ground with no underpinnings. When there was a slow rise of water from washing off the prairie,  the flood simply widened out a bit and ran over the road at this place. For eighty-five years, at least,  it had served with not a thought of washing out. The other low water bridge where Dad had pulled huge boulders onto the ground for a crossing had slipped and that bridge could no longer be used.  This  shut off the other  road  along side the land Ted Turner now owned.

     Now looking up to the old ranch house I realized I suddenly did not feel the same grief. Was it because my Brother's condition was more important to me than this old lost home? While we drove across the meadow up to the house it was clear to me this wasn't even a road anymore.

     My friend watched and helped pull a card table, chairs, ice chest and table cloth from the back of the car. In a moment the little table was spread with a cheerful cloth. While we enjoyed a brief lunch, I tried to refrain from talking about what I was thinking.

     “Is your wife happy, out here in the middle of no where?”  I remembered asking my brother as he lounged easily that evening on the bannister of the old stone porch.

      “Oh sure. She likes it out here. She laughs and talks about her house. Four rooms and path, she calls it.” My brother was happy,  it was apparent. Those were the days when we were so young and had no idea what life had in store for us.

      The soft warm prairie breeze pulled gently at the table cloth where my friend and I  were now eating. I was facing in a direction so that I could see out over the miles of prairie land.  A scant  herd of cattle grazed on Ted Turner's land across the road. When my friend spoke out it was only then that I realized she did not enjoy the  same view.

       “You know, sitting here looking at the front of that old house makes me wonder what all went on here.”  My friend, of course, was curious.

       For some reason I couldn't talk about all the good times we had. Instead I pointed out where the dairy barn had been, the tenant houses, the old well, the hay barn.

    After our short meal we took a moment to walk up to the stone front porch.  Someone had dug the rocks off the floor, tried to dig into the foundation on it, and arranged a row of rocks in a circle around a hole. I wanted to be angry but instead this was laughable and pathetic. The old rock mason who had done the work originally was an artist without question. I remember Dad talking about him using a  keystone for whatever he did. These people couldn't even make an attractive arrangement of their fireplace.

      This time when I started to walk across the floor I looked down and saw that the floor was really beginning to become rotten and weak so I turned away.  My friend was glad I didn't go on into the house.

     “We need to get on our way if we are going to go through the gift shop on the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.”  Away from and out of the area was okay for me. No longer did I feel responsible to a bureau or a family or anyone else. I had done my best. If there were law suits against those folks,  should someone be injured here, it was no longer a concern of mine. I tried to warn them.

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