I Remember When . . . .
Great Stories about growing up in the Horntown, Oklahoma area!

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Serenity

     After a spring thunderstorm in Oklahoma, the air always felt so very clean and crisp. It seemed as though, as the cool front moved through, it had cleansed the air of all impurities, and in so doing, bathed our land with a fresh, invigorating atmosphere. One that made a youngster feel alive, happy and clean. That was the time to go wading. Frank Fennell's two ponds would overflow, sending a rush of water down the little stream that meandered through our pasture for the kids to enjoy. Kids could wade in it, and catch the fish that had wended their way downstream for the sole purpose of being caught and enjoyed by them alone. This is the same stream where many crawdads [crayfish] would be rounded up for a good snack. The tails could be peeled, battered and fried, and these little morsels were delicious, as they should be, because after all, crawdads are small, freshwater lobsters.
       Going to the pond in the fresh air of a cool, still morning, to see ducks on the placid water was another wonderful adventure. Sometimes there would be Bluewing Teals, Greenwing Teals, Mallards, the drakes with their iridescent green heads and necks, swimming and feeding. Or one might hear the whistle of a Pintail, the greyhounds of the air, soaring overhead. Many other beauties at alternate times could be found there. There usually were Mudhens [Coots] on the water. These little waterbirds must have held some kind of a record for their quickness and speed in the art of diving, though it took a long runway for them to get airborne, as they ran clumsily across the water, flapping their wings trying to get up enough speed to overcome gravity. Once in awhile a beautiful Purple Gallinule would lose it's way, or be blown far off-course by the winds and become a rare visitor here. They did not seem to be very frightened by the dreaded human being. Redwing Blackbirds by the score, with their melodious liquid gurgles and nests in the cattails, also were Spring and Summer residents. There were usually Bitterns, with their throaty "ka-chunk, ka-chunk" that sounded like a rusty well pump. They could usually be spotted in the Willows, perched on a limb, with their long straight necks and heads pointed skyward, looking like another limb. The spelling may not be right, but some folks called these birds Shadpoes. In an open field, a Killdeer would often be seen, fluttering as with a broken wing to lead an intruder away from her nest of gravels on the ground.
     It was also a pleasure to go here during a cool still morning, just as the sun was about to rise and make it's renewed entrance and awaken the world to a new day. Neither a leaf nor blade of grass would be stirring as if all the earth was still in deep slumber. The winds move almost constantly in Oklahoma, but late at night , they may also sleep. As a shot would  ring out, it appeared to awaken all of nature. It seemed that all surroundings were ringing, as if they were beginning a renewal of life. A gun could be fired several times after that, but the phenomenon would never recur. This is a mystery I still don't understand.
     The wild flowers were abundant and the wild fruit produced by nature, though usually smaller, were much more delicious. There were no strawberries sweeter or with as much real strawberry flavor than those found beneath the grasses of the pasture. It seems that most fruits and vegetables after being new and improved still have the same amount of flavor, just scattered over a larger mass, actually making them inferior to Mother Nature's own. Not all days in Oklahoma could be described as vastly pleasant, but when the good ones did occur, there was nothing to compare with the peace and serenity they produced.
Harry Shumard

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