Sunday, October 22, 2017

I miss the horses

I drove down a road I haven't traveled in some time. It's changed. I remember the first time I drove down this road. Bear with me.

I graduated from high school and worked for the State Highway Department that first summer. In the fall, I enrolled in a community college in Birmingham.

The first semester was sad. I was around new people. Until then, I led a fairly sheltered life. But in college, there was a lot of cool kids from all over. I spent more time on "fitting in" that I spent on studies. My grades in December were less than stellar. They were closer to the cellar.

I was the first in our family to attend college. My folks took a sharp pencil to their finances to pay for tuition and books. But they were ahead of their time with the philosophy, "No Pass, No Pay."

There was a hard lesson there. If I wanted to stay in school, I'd need a job

There was a guy in my sociology class that friended me up. He worked at a manufacturing plant nearby. He put in a good word for me, and within a few weeks, I was a janitor. My starting salary was $2.45 an hour. I reported for duty at 11:00 p.m. My first class the next morning was at 8:00 a.m.

To say I struggled is an understatement. But since I was footing the bill for tuition and books, I struggled and passed by the skin of my teeth. It was a learning experience.

The road that I drove for those two years, was the same road I drove down today. There was a section of that road that was my favorite. The asphalt dissected a beautiful ranch. Cows and horses grazed near a split rail fence that bordered the road on both sides. The ranch extended all the way to the Locust Fork River.

But beneath the land was a seam of Black Creek coal. Anthracite coal almost as hard a diamond. Black gold.

I'm guessing the landowner got tired of chasing cows because he sold that land. Soon draglines and dynamite turned paradise into a moonscape. Mountains of slate rock the color of a kindergarten blackboard. Nothing grew there but scrub pine and cottonwood.

Today when I drove down that road, I saw something I didn't expect.  A tiny stretch of beauty. Queen Ann's Lace by the side of the road was enough to make me turn my head.

I pulled to the curb, put my emergency flashers on, and stepped back to take a few pictures. The wind was ripping so it was difficult to get a picture that was in focus.

I smiled as I stepped back to the truck. That was beautiful...but I miss the horses.


  1. Looking back memories and a touch of today's beauty.

  2. Nature finds a way. One of our politicians publically loathes wind-farms because (among other things) they are ugly. He espouses coal. I know which I would prefer to live beside....
    And yes, I would miss the horses too.

  3. Horses are beautiful animals and Queen Ann's Lace is also beautiful. I don't know too many men who would stop on the road to take a picture of Queen Ann's Lace flowers.

    $2.45 an hour went a lot farther in those days. You have a good memory. Our minimum wage in New Brunswick Canada is $10.65 an hour and people can't get by on such low wages unless they have two wage earners in that household.

    Thanks for joining my Bloglovin. Sorry, I haven't had much time to post on my blog because I'm too tired by the time I'm done in the evening.

    Hugs, Julia

  4. It's terrible to see our lands stripped away like this, but at least you caught a bit of nature reclaiming her place, nice picture Rick. Too bad the horses aren't still there.

  5. Queens Anne Lace is such a beautiful flower, I can never think of it as a weed. The farmers here have taken to selling their farms for retirement income. Where once was a farm there are now housing developments. The country is slowly being crowded out and it's fast disappearing my my part of the woods anyway.

  6. It is hard to think of anyone who is not impressed by horses. I have learned that Florida is loaded with them.
    But to your post. Those memories are money in the bank. Something to lean on in tough times or just plane old, "looking back". I even enjoyed the trip back with you.

  7. One piece of beauty in the area of destruction. That is a real find.

  8. This post reminds me of the movie "A tree grows in Brooklyn" in a place you least expect it. I would miss the horses too.

  9. Interesting! In college I had a job as a janitor that paid $2.45 an hour.

  10. After talking about all the big beauty you saw, you still took time to notice the tiny lace flowers on the side of the road. Great observance.

  11. Anonymous5:04 PM

    The Queen Anne's Lace is lovely, but not as much as horses!!


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