We were still in Tulsa at the start of this week, staying at an AirBnB where our host has the place decorated with artful messages, like “Love, Peace, Happiness,” “Follow Your Dreams,” and other inspiring images. She graduates with a Masters in Social Work this week then is heading out in her van for a road trip to celebrate. Congrats and happy travels! At the Woody Guthrie Center here we learned a lot about his music, life and times. His inspiring belief was “A Folk Song Is What’s Wrong, And, How to Fix It.” Yes!
We also attended Sunday service at All Soul’s Unitarian here, where their month’s theme of Mercy was embellished in a sermon by the senior minister, titled, “We All Make Mistakes.” Their semi-annual congregational meeting’s annual report cover said a lot about our faith in just six words: “Diverse in Belief, United in Love.” Loren and I then splurged on Sunday brunch at the Gilcrease museum restaurant, and afterwards walked through their extensive gardens and grounds. I had visited this museum some years ago at the suggestion of a coworker. It was where I saw my first Albert Bierstadt painting of Yosemite Valley and I have always appreciated his unique style when seeing his works ever since.
On leaving Tulsa we drove on more of Historic Route 66 in parts of Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas, on our way to Nebraska. We drove across Marsh Arch Bridge, through the town of Galena, and, cities of Joplin, Aitchison, Troy… We now must watch the animated movie Cars, which was partly inspired by Route 66. In Troy we saw our second of Peter “Wolf” Toth’s Whispering Giants Trail statues. Who knows if we will see more, but our first in Winslow, Arizona inspired our interest in seeing others.
In Travels with Charley John Steinbeck makes it clear that he has little use for interstate highways, though he says it with more eloquence. Considering his view, I am torn. I grew up along with the interstate road system – I remember as a child when Interstate 287 in Westchester County, New York was under initial construction. Yes, Eisenhower’s 60 year old Interstate System is barren of character, but, it offers shortened travel time to distant destinations by allowing accelerated speed.
However, on exiting from an interstate, I sometimes feel frustrated by speed restrictions after just being able to fly along – unless it is commute time near a big city, plagued by an accident, or simply a congested area. On the other hand I relax more with the slower pace of the two lane highways, and enjoy seeing local culture alongside the road. Then on return to interstate driving, I miss the community sights. Plus, it takes time to feel comfortable accelerating to the speed of traffic – which is usually not until I am passed by several other drivers who are moving faster. I use cruise control to avoid exceeding the limit, though, if too many drivers pass by, I often speed up to keep up. When that happens there is the subtle yet constant vigilance for law enforcement approaching, even hiding, not to mention a keener sense of defensive driving. Is all this is in some way a metaphor for life? Undoubtedly, I am receiving much inspiration to ponder this week.
We arrived at cousin Raynell’s in time for “supper” with her, her one daughter and grand-children. Last week she told us that there were still 29 calves expected. We had hoped to arrive in time to witness and help out. We learned how “heifers” are either too young to be bred, or, in their first year to give birth. Heifers have the potential to need the most help with delivery and/or their calf might need help with learning to feed, so our cousins check on them every 2 hours, day and night. We had missed the last heifer birth by mere hours. Now we just check the cows 2 or 3 times a day.
Our first full day on the farm was of “working” the cattle, which included rounding up, sorting and pairing some of the heifers and their calves, tagging them, and putting them to pasture. The “working” included our one cousin physically pinning the calf with her body while the other tagged its ear, and, if male, bound it to create a steer from a bull. Loren’s and my efforts were to help round up, sort and pair, then assist with the specific supplies needed. It was truly a day of being farm hands under the expertise of lifelong farmers, an exhilarating day overall.
Our cousin’s five bulls are kept in electric fenced-in yards – two in one and three in another, and apart from the cows, unless it is time for breeding. Her farm also includes a hen house, where eggs are laid daily.
We had a nice lunch out – excuse me, I mean dinner, what Nebraskans call the mid-day meal, with another cousin, his wife, and, their youngest granddaughter.
We also visited at our cousin’s daughter’s farm to see her eleven newborn goats, literally her “kids.” Our cousin is holding the one who her granddaughter named, “Thumper,” because it was born on Easter.
That evening we went to see the granddaughter pitch in a softball double header in Omaha, saw her steal third, and score on a slide into home plate.
Also this week we learned about the process of planting soy beans, where our other cousin’s grandson, came over to confirm that the computer inside the sophisticated planter equipment was operating correctly. We were then privileged to see our first newborn calf, delivered by one of the several cows who are still expecting. Where we had thought that the cow would need our help, we learned instead that she would fear us for being too close. It was amazing to see how the calf stood up so soon after its birth!
The week was topped off by fishing in a pond where Loren and his cousins had fished as kids, complete with a cookout hosted by our cousins. One granddaughter brought her new puppy named Diesel while a grandson caught the first, the largest, and the most fish of the evening’s event!
One cousin helped Loren net in his largest fish…
Today we are going to watch one of the grandchildren’s baseball tournament!