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Donna's Journal
Another Leg-Osage Journal, 3-12-05

     As soon as we left the middle path  running along past the front of the old house we came onto a better road. It wasn't paved but grading had made it passable.  When we got to the town of Foraker I took a loop around the few remaining houses in order to point out the places my folks had owned so many years ago.

     “Why did you live in all those houses?”  My friend asked.

     “I don't know. Mother used to say we played “musical houses.” I couldn't explain why we had to have so many houses. Though part of it was tied up with my grandmother, Bellzona.  At first she lived on a place away from town a bit. She became weaker and couldn't tend a garden, fruit trees, chickens and that.  They bought her a three-story house in town.”

      “She and Grampa Joe lived there for some time and it was a beautiful place with her care.  Climbing  stairs became difficult for her as she aged. This is when they bought the last house  and that is where she died.”

      “Our  residence was close enough for Dad and Mother to check in on her. It was a town house for us and that was all. We really stayed most of the time  at the Strike Axe, a ranch adjoining my Uncle's spread. This is where the cattle were and they needed daily care. Sometimes, the roads were so bad Mother had to stay with us in town so we could go to school.”

      Only a few weeks ago we had stood around the grave of the young mother, my grand niece by marriage,  who had been killed in a head on car crash. I drove up onto the meadow where the cemetery was located. The grave was still quite visible. Tire tracks and ruts were all along both sides of the road where people had sunk into the ground because of the wet ground at the time of the funeral. My daughter and I had gone out earlier. We parked the car at a right angle to the road and facing it. The people who came followed our example which kept all  the whole grounds from being cut up with tire tracks. This orderly lining up of the cars, side by side,  so that all the numbers of people had a place to park did give some relief from what could have been a disorderly, too large group.

     There must have been a feeling of sadness about my personality because no where I looked was pleasant.  Always before when I scooted over the roads there was always a joyful sight for me. Once two eagles lifted from a snag of a dead tree. Another time sweet, young calves gambled.  Tumbling streams falling over the prairie after a rain created full tanks with reflective blue water. Today though,  everywhere I looked was cold and barren with nothing but dead, dried up grass.

     “Did they have a fire over here?”  My friend motioned to the right side of the road.

     “No. This is what they call a controlled burn. It is what the Tallgrass prairie people do. It is just one more thing my brother was unhappy for them to practice.”

     “Why not?”  She wanted to know.

      “The eggs of prairie chicken are on the ground. When they burn it kills the eggs and the birds. I don't know what other species it destroys but some, I'm sure.

      “Well, why do they do it, then?”  This was the obvious next question.

      “It is to kill weeds and to allow the Tallgrass to grow without being choked with unwanted varieties of what they consider worthless plants.  Anyway this is their reasoning.  I'm sure my brother knows what he is talking about though because I've read that the Prairie Chickens are endangered.”

      The buffalo ranging here and there didn't even look good to me. They seemed to be scrawny and lank looking. “Maybe it is just my general bad attitude I have over my brother's illness and the always worsening condition of the old home place,” I thought to myself while driving the winding road out over the prairie to where the bunk house and gift shop was located.

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