“Whoa! Is that a rock? What’s a rock doing on the ground?” then on closer inspection you realize it is a petrified piece of cow poop.
There are two things I stop and go “Whoa! What’s that doing here?” 1. Rocks and 2. Trees. The Sandhills are just that- sand. No rocks, no topsoil, no clay, just sand. And the prairie is just that- grass. No trees. If you have rocks or trees, it is because someone put them there. (Side note: I don’t consider eastern red cedars as trees; they are pests/weeds/cancer-of-the-prairie. I whoa at cedars, but only to cut them down.)
Whoa! Trees! On the ranch, several groups of these trees dot the sea of grass.
If you are still, the tall pines will whisper. Whispers of the hopes and dreams of the homesteaders who broke the sod to plant crops, draw water for a handful of trees around the house. Whispers of good rains. Whispers a hundred years old and growing.
Whispers of drought, shriveled crops, loaded wagons. Whispers of tears as the family leaves the house and knee-high pines. The Corkin pasture still houses the old foundation of the house. ReeRee plays on the cement steps when we check water. What children used to play here and how long ago?
And the trees behind them speak of the hopes of the landowner. A large shelterbelt was planted. And the disappointments and disappearance of that family.
A chip from a large pot remains. A piece off of an old separator (machine with a large crank handle that removed the cream from the milk). But no one remains.
There is that desire, the desire to cover the bare roots of a baby tree with soil. The desire to see those trees grow and mature. The desire for my children to plant roots and stay.
No one goes into a marriage hoping it will fail. No one plants a tree knowing it will be abandoned.
Moral of this story: I want to plant a tree, but I don’t want to be a failure.