Friday, April 30, 2010

Prairie Story 5

One thing lead to another on the new homestead. It was hard to tell how long it would take to get all eighty acres working. A new home was in the making: their first had been made of sod, followed by a two-room cabin. A window was ordered special so his wife could watch the children play in a shady grove outside of the kitchen. Having lost his first wife after ten happy years, he tried hard to make his new wife’s world comfortable, since she took over four children that weren’t even hers. It was a hard shoe to fill, but she soon had the family under her charm, and they were mercerized by her wit. Nothing seemed to unnerve her, except for and occasional snake in the garden. She had swept the dirt floors with grace, but materials were more available, and they wanted to provide the children a better life than their own. That’s why they needed the new home, to have more comfort than they had when coming to this new land.

It was an upward struggle, with only a few downfalls. One neighbor just left in the middle of the night, possibly disgraced at their failure to thrive in this ocean of prairie. They had thrived and built up their farm, where it began to offer a comfortable lifestyle and savings. His animal husbandry provided ample meat for their table, and some to share with other family members. They never forgot the people who first helped them, and occasionally shared a steer with the tribe. Take heed of all around you and you reap in the benefits of love. The grasses still formed a series of untamed land, waving to all that passed. Gone was a lot of the ocean of prairie, sent to an early grave with progress.

The children played in the meadow collecting flowers. Some were put in wreaths to wear around their heads, or colorful rings, necklaces, and bracelets. A few bouquets would be going to their mother, since they knew she was making pies. A clatter of wagons approached and they saw all that was left of a small Indian tribe. Over one half had perished over the winter with an outbreak of influenza, and those that were left were being relocated again far to the south. The children handed their bouquets to their good neighbors, and went back playing, unable to fully understand what was happening to their good friends. The gathered new bouquets for their mother, who would want to hear what they had just seen. The prairie plants blew softly, waving at the sun and wind, humming its familiar tune of peace.

The trip south was hard on the tribe, riding into country totally different from their plush eternal garden. Nobody had spotted any game except for a few rabbits for three days. Hunting parties wanted to ride ahead, but were told to stay with the band and meat would be provided. That night they were handed a case of cans stamped with the word, beef. Inside they found a tough salty concoction, in thick soup. The women would have to figure out what to do with it, unfortunately it would be what was offered while they traveled. The band fatigued and began to get some stragglers, unable to keep up with the pace. The agents told them the end was near, and how so that was. They arrived at a dusty sagging building in seemingly the middle of nowhere. Off in the distance they could see a settlement, with a few more buildings and a dozen large tents.

The tents would be their homes, until they could build homes on their allotted parcel. The land was rough, and had little vegetation. The soil proved worthless for growing the seeds they had brought with them. The canned meats and occasional steer were meager rations compared to hat they were used to. Stored food diminished quickly. They had planned on replacing this with the promise for a better place to live from the agents who did the paperwork for them. They had been alienated from all they had built up numerous times. The tribe was weary to stay together, hearing talk about others who bought land they once roamed free. Grandmother looked out in the four directions and yearned to see her oceans of prairie, hoping to even see a small piece as a reminder. A gust of wind carried the dust in a spiral across her gaze, picking up a tumbleweed, and carrying it up sixty feet before setting it down at her feet. Would this wind carry them back to where they felt was home, back to those oceans of grass she had seen all of her life? Her thoughts traveled across the land on a gentle prairie breeze.

Life has so many twists and turns
So we must work harder at trying to learn
That we must build or minds and soul
Understanding to enjoy happiness
Is a never-ending goal.

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