I have had a busy few weeks with visits to the historic town of Guthrie, music and art events at the City Center and the windy trip to Mount Scott and the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. My husband and I are doing day trips to find places where we might like to camp when Oklahoma’s red and orange landscape is altered by Spring’s green grass and the return of leaves to the trees.
In Winter, the bare trees of central Oklahoma stand like old men, some bent over, some split, some appearing to have legs. Others carry the heaviness of drought with the densest of wood. Standing straight with a crown of tiny twisted twigs that trap little shapes of light between them until they become so dense as to look like they are woven into a basket.
The clusters of trees at the Wildlife Reserve north of Lawton, Oklahoma have the nickname of ‘iron woods’. The wood is dense and hard from the harshness of the semi-arid climate, their bases black with the evidence of grass fires. On first inspection they are quiet, listening to you, to determine if you are worthy of their ancient secrets. Their presence is somewhat ominous and images of Tolkein’s “Ents” invade my imagination. I could imagine them shifting slowly when I am not looking only to become still when I turn toward them. Their dance as if moving to a music so slow that it takes a hundred years. Many of these trees are no more than 25 feet tall, but some are over 400 years old. Oaks and cedars… These trees are sacred to both the Native peoples and to the ancient Celtic peoples. The Oak is the King of trees.
Dust storms were moving through the area the day we visited, creating a monochromatic palette of ochres both on the grasslands and up on the mountain. Free roaming buffalo sat quietly on the plains waiting for the abrasive winds to abate. The mountains are an ancient range, the only one to run east/west in North America. They were once as tall as the Rockies, but now, inclines are made up of impossibly large boulders that appear stacked and piled as if by giants. Cedars and junipers are walls to the gale force winds at the summit of Mount Scott. Their trunks twisted and bent by the fierce winds.
When the stone opened up to plains, longhorn cattle could be seen foraging in the pale gold grass.