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8/18/2006

Shall We Dance?

How do you measure wealth? By everyday standards I d have to say I m scraping the bottom of the barrel. But then I ve never been much for every day. My Cowboy son, Michael and I decided to take a little R & R by checking out the watershed pond on the west side of the place. The drought has dropped the water level to at least half its conservation level.  
 
We checked out the old watering site on the trail from Fort Harker to Wichita that was used extensively in 1868 when Wichita was just being founded. The spring is now silted in. The old wagon ruts still cut through the pasture leading to what was once a very popular camp site. The Ellison trail herds out of Texas once set their cow camp here while 5,000 head of Texas Longhorns grazed the surround prairie.  
 
As we surveyed the muddy shore line of the receding lake turtle doves filled the sky. Our presence moved them to find other sources of water for the moment. The sight of doves heralds the coming of the fall. This was the first day I had seen them. The seasons are about to change.  
 
Michael noticed something strange on the face of the dam. So, as the sun set ever lower in the western sky we walked slowly and peacefully toward what appeared to be a dead tree that had washed upon the shore. Our conversations ranged from cattle to speculation on how long water would remain in the pond if this drought continued.  
 
Shadows were beginning to cast a long presence over the land as a splash in the pond startled our ears. Neither one of us had happened to see the obviously large bass as it had wandered beyond its watery home to taste a world just beyond its own. A snake slithered over the exposed shore and into the water. It s head was barely visible as it effortlessly passed through the water.  
 
Just before we reached the curious pile of limbs on the shore we noticed a beaver swimming in the pond. And then another and another. On closer inspection the limbs were the beginnings of a home the beavers were building at the edge of the pond. How curious we thought. Then it occurred to Michael that the beaver had found their way to our pond out of necessity as their traditional beaver dams on the creeks had dried up without stream flow from the drought.  
 
We stood back and watched the setting as the evening grew dim. Even as we returned to our car we couldn t leave but continued watching and experiencing the world around us. How do you measure wealth? 
 
As I drove along the rode this morning the turtle doves scattered all along the roadway. They lined along the power lines and once again filled the air. It was the first morning that they had returned to dance the dance of nature with me once again. The seasons are about to change. . . 
So Long, 
The Cowboy 

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