As I sit here with many thoughts and vivid memories running through my mind, I am fixated on the sandy soil and the trees at the old farm. Through the years, the topography of the land changes. Where once was a clear fence line to hold in cattle has become hidden, reclaimed by nature. The sand has risen in its defeat against the wind, falling over the years on top of itself until mounds have covered it completely. Rounding through the once robust shelter-belt, a new line of trees have begun to grow. The old cottonwood is gone, and with it the old rope we swung on so many times, with it the memory I hold as one of my most favorite as a little boy. Going deeper in the woods, I come to the southwest corner of our farm. Adjoining our property is the land the city water wells are on. This corner of trees is still present with a towering cottonwood that has beat the odds amongst the elm and the bois d’arc trees. So many times a summer the city wells would have to be drained, and when they were drained it ran through a pipe under the neighbor’s road into our shelter-belt. Dad always kept a deep trough there with minnows in it, so he would have a fresh supply when he went fishing. I can still see the screen wire over the top of it to keep the minnows from being drained out when the water was flushed through the lines. There was a grape vine that grew into the trees I remember, but that too is in the past. The tall cottonwood waves its dark green, palm width leaves in the wind and knows he is still the strongest of them all. It is cool and damp in the corner, refreshing almost like mist has fallen. As the tree line winds to the East from the corner I can see my dad with a hand saw, trimming limbs. We didn’t have the power saws then as they do today. Dad kept the shelter-belt neat, almost as if it were a park growing up. Having cattle that ran through it all the time kept it trimmed up too. If I look really hard, I can see the squirrel boxes daddy built and put in the trees, and I can see the squirrels running in and out of them as well. For a couple of years, the city drained enough water every year to keep a pond that dad had dug full of water year-round. He stocked it with catfish. For whatever reason, the water stopped flowing like it used to and the pond dried up. All of us younger kids, even little sister took more than one dip in that old pond, knowing catfish and turtles owned it. Mom wasn’t too fond of it, she was always afraid we would drown and especially didn’t like the way Cindy looked after coming from there. In my mind, all things can be puzzled back in place, even though nature rearranges things. What I remember and what I see now are two different things. We still have the old farm, it is our safe place now, ironic to what it was when we were children. I imagine dust devils as I remember the lightening striking the south-side of the shelter belt. The fire grew pretty large, but thanks be to God it played itself out, because dad kept all the dead brush and limbs cleaned out from underneath it. As it is with all things starting out fresh and new, we age, become replaced like the trees, with newer generations to take their places. I look out over the old farm and sand is in my eye, not literally, but the sight of it. I didn’t think this bit of nostalgia would feel so tingly real, but it does, because it is. I still get a little bit excited when I go to the corner of the shelter-belt. I can see my daddy sitting on a stump, resting there, contemplating about what his next move will be there. We always made sure we had a pellet gun or the 22 rifle with us when we were in the woods. Daddy taught me how to shoot with that old gun and the 12-gauge shotgun. I will stop here for today, for I know I’m running over myself, getting off track with memories that flood through my mind, much like the water did in the shelter-belt when they flushed the lines. I am humbled by nature and am proud to have part of its sand to call home.
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