Nature Experience #2 – Nature Trek at “The Farm”

Okay – so it’s not really a ‘farm.’ But that’s what my family has always called it. It’s land that my dad and my uncle bought after they both returned from WWII. It’s about twenty miles south of Stillwater in Lincoln County (the epicenter of the recent earthquakes!). 

I have a fondness for that 160 acres and visit regularly, particularly in the fall and winter months. Our quarter section features a sunken area we call “the canyon” and a pond. The pond is spring-fed and has recently been really low because of the drought.
 
To a casual observer it’s probably not much to look at. A lot of prairie grasses, post oaks and blackjacks. We also have the Curse of the Eastern Red Cedar like most of central Oklahoma. (Historically, naturally-occuring fire took out most of these cedar trees, but with the preference leaning toward preventing fire over the last sixty or so years, the trees are taking over much of eastern Oklahoma’s prairie land.)

Cedars or no, I love to hike around the place. ‘The farm’ served several years as pasture for cattle and mules. Now it provides habitat for deer, bobcats, armadillos, racoon and wild hogs. It’s rugged land, crisscrossed by gullies and animal trails and dotted with groves of persimmon trees. An ancient pear tree is the only marker of the farmhouse that once stood just inside the only gate. A “road” leads from the gate across the acreage to the pond. My family has camped, fished, picnicked, shot guns and hiked all over.

Recently, on a warm late fall afternoon, my daughter and her husband brought my granddaughter to The Farm for the first time. My husband and I had been onsite for a good hour before they arrived. We had driven in, parked and hiked on down to the pond, checked out one end of the canyon, and come back to the truck to wait for them.

Faint cloudsmears lightened the blue sky and a breeze tossled our hair. A fresh earth smell hovered close to the ground, and a musty aroma rose from dried grasses and leaves. Chickadees and sparrows twittered in the trees and a red-tailed hawk scree-ed as he swooped above us in the sky. A distant pump jack broke the quiet with its rhythm, but peace prevailed. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and let the sun warm my face and arms.
 
Then they arrived, and our thoughts focused on the exuberance of a fifteen-month old. We tried to carry her piggy back over the rutted old road, but she wanted to walk. She toddled down the dirt road with uneven steps. She fell a few times, and laughed. She reached out to touch the brushy tops of the grasses, and bent to poke the moss where it grew on the sandy red stones. She picked up leaves, and pondered animal tracks. Birds twittered and she sought the source of the songs. Her eyes widened with wonder. Her delight didn’t end, even when her energy ran low.

So, I am the ‘nature’ grandmother, and I cherish the title. There is a wonderful world out there to explore, with a lifetime of learning opportunities. I will pass my love of nature on to my grandchild, like I did with my children before her, and like my grandmother did for me.

I know that there is no greater gift to give!

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