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Walt McDonald Gardens of Sand and Cactus My wife takes salt for starters, and rusted strands of barbed wire, the iron Grandfather left. Chips chunks from a salt block mired in sand, that tongue-rubbed marble artwork of the West, anywhere cows roam--not buffaloes that lick their salt from cactus and the bones of coyotes. Takes bones, a skull, when she sees one.


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Takes snakeskin like twisted strips of film. Looks under yucca for the best, six feet at least.

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But fierce grandfather snakes don't rattle until they're sure, so she listens before she stoops. Finds horseshoes to pitch, any flint or curved stone shaped like a tool. Tugging our last child's Radio Flyer in the pasture, brings pigments back, even the burnt sienna bolus of owls. Scrapes umber from banks of the Brazos, however dry, gold dust where bobcats marked the stumps. Packs, stacks it all.

Great Lonely Places of the Texas Plains

Takes time, fans with her hat, then hauls that wagon wobbling to our house. Amazed that she makes gardens of cactus and sand, I miter frames to hang whatever she's found and salvaged as art, even rocks she cuts and tumbles in a barrel grinding like sweet, hand-cranked ice cream, turning this desert we call home into babies' mobiles, wind chimes and swings, bird feeders in every tree. Jogging with Oscar When I take my dachshund jogging, boys and widows gawk and stop tossing balls or lopping limbs off shrubs.

They call and point at long, pot-bellied Oscar trotting like a rocker horse, tongue wagging, dragging on grass when he hops over skateboards, long muzzle wide as if laughing, eager, sniffing the breeze. All Oscar needs is a tree like a mailbox, postcards from dogs he barks at at night, and odd whiffs he can't place. When he stops and squats, up runs a neighbor's collie tall as a horse, stalking like a swan meeting an eel, muzzle to muzzle in dog talk, collie tail like a feather fan. Wherever we go, we're not alone for an hour, devoted hobblers on the block, the odd couple-- long-legged bony man jogging along, obeying the leash law, the black, retractable nylon sagging back to Oscar, who never balks or sasses when I give the dangling leash a shake, but trots to me desperate for affection, panting like a dog off to see Santa, willing to jog any block for a voice, a scratch on the back.

Great Lonely Places of the Texas Plains- Wyman Meinzer – Blue Star Trading

I've seen that hunger in other dogs. I watched my wife for forty years brush dogs that didn't need the love he does. When my children visit, my oldest grandsons trot with him to the park, that glossy, auburn sausage tugging and barking, showing off. The toddlers squat and pat him on his back.

They touch his nose and laugh, and make him lick them on the lips. Good Oscar never growls, not even if they fall atop him. He was a gift from them, last Christmas, a dog their pop could take for walks and talk to. Oscar would have loved my wife, who spoiled and petted our old dogs for decades, coaxing them up for tidbits on the couch beside her, offering all the bliss a dog could wish for, a hand to lick, a lap to lay their heads.

Oh, he's already spoiled, barks at bluejays on his bowl, fat and lonely unless I'm home.


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But how groomed and frisky he could be if she were here, how calm to see us both by the fire, rocking, talking, turning out the lights. For Grandfather, in memory of Grandmother Anna. Academy of American Poets Educator Newsletter. Teach This Poem. Follow Us. Find Poets. I participated in the entertainments put together for the yearly meeting, whenever it met in Oklahoma, by members of the Osage Nation: it was tribal dances one year, and a traditional guessing game another year, and it was all wonderful. Gradually, over the space of a few years, I began piecing together the story of the yearly meeting as a whole — surely the most theologically and ethnically diverse of all yearly meetings in North America.

I watched as the yearly meeting liberalized, and at the same time, modernized the format for its sessions. It introduced workshops and featured speakers. It began talking in business about the big issues. And at the same time I watched it dwindle. In it had less than members.

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In it had barely more than In , as I said above, it had thirty-odd members attending its sessions. Even though the yearly meeting program now includes workshops and featured speakers, the basic business of the yearly meeting remains almost as simple today as it ever was.

This year there were only two real departures from the routine. This was the first time Great Plains had issued such a manual since the last updating of its book of discipline, back in the s. Everyone present saw it as a Big Deal. I doubt that any of my present readers need to be re-familiarized with this issue, since it has been so hot for so long among Friends. It fully understands the positions of both sides in the personnel-policy debate, and has members in deep sympathy with both sides. It values the good works that FUM engages in — works such as Ramallah Friends School , and charitable efforts in Africa — and would be collectively heartbroken to see those efforts grind to a halt because Friends were unwilling to support them financially.

Great Plains will also send one or two representatives to Baltimore YM this year, continuing an ongoing intervisitation commitment. Needless to say, these two decisions add up to a very taxing commitment for a yearly meeting that only twenty-six members were attending. But all this makes sense when you consider the essential loneliness of being a Friend in the Plains. Hominy Friends Church, interior, at yearly meeting: the presiding and recording clerks are conferring.

I think this whole meeting room is only about three times the size of my living room at home. Support systems are all-important here. If the Quaker world were to cease to exist, here in the Plains there would not be much of anywhere else where a person of the Quaker sort could feel at home, without picking up stakes and moving to some big city. Friends here maintain active, loving liaisons, to the best of their ability, with FUM, with EFI, with FGC, and with several sorts of independent Friends, simply because all these groups provide influences that help make their own local communities feel nurtured and stable.

Would that the hotheads in Southeastern YM — and in Baltimore and New England and Iowa and the yearly meetings of East Africa — would think about this before they make things worse! You might find you hear another layer of meaning in his words. View Printer Friendly Version. Email Article to Friend. Thank you, Marshall, for your insightful and tender observations. We at Great Plains YM are blessed to have you as a friend. Interesting post. I learned more about GPYM. Certainly it is in a unique position as a YM, being at a point on the spectrum where no other YM is.

In parts certainly not all of the Great Plains area, Mennonites are strong. I wonder if that wouldn't be a place to go if meetings were laid down. You mention Hominy. My great great great grandparents were Friends missionaries to the Osage at Vera. Was the Vera meeting part of the Great Plains? If so, are they still "in business"? The Quaker Magpie Journal. Conservative Quaker matters. The Nature Amendment. Friends meetings visited.

QMJ thematic index. Framing Information. For information on the photos used to frame this site, click here. Broader Context. References 1 References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article. Response: worldlander. At some point relentless individuals live in low places since they like effortlessness and would prefer not to show to others what they are. Be that as it may, in low places individuals don't regard them since they are uneducated or uninformed of how to regard others.

Reader Comments 4 Thank you, Marshall, for your insightful and tender observations.