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Wild Horses in Black & White

Thoughts on farming, education and Indigenous cultures in America.  

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  • Writer's picturejstanion1890

I was told that strength comes from individual values built on three tiers. Like the three legs of a kitchen stool that holds me up when I reach to the top shelf for something I need or want. I reflected back to my childhood. What stuck with me over the sixty-plus years? Where had I always turned when I was unhappy? Of all the things that interest me, what brings me peace? What keeps me sane when the world goes crazy and people are mean? Where do I find solace when life hurts?

I confess. It was this very graphic of The Black Stallion that captured me as a toddler. My mother was a reader. She had escaped poverty and traveled the world in her imagination with books. We couldn't afford to buy many. They were a luxury. But there was a king's ransom of them to be found in the public library. With the knees of my corduroys worn through from galloping on my hands and knees around the house, I'd follow my mother through the antiquated doors before scooting quickly to the children's section. There, I drug my fingers along the spines of the stacks until I found the tall, fire-engine red one, the one I knew had a beautiful black stallion on every page. Pulling it out, I'd lower myself to the floor where I curled comfortably against the shelves, turning page after page, dreaming of what it would be like to own that horse.

Our home was full of educational books, so when The Black Stallion was unavailable from the library, I'd peruse the pages of our American Heritage Collection that rested on the shelves in Dad's study. There were books about ships and machines and maps, but the ones that interested me were those about the Native Americans. They lived with horses. They were, in fact, called the Horse Nation. They valued horses, painted them for war, and appreciated the colors of the Appaloosa and the markings of the Medicine hats. Caring for horses was an important stepping stone for a would-be warrior. The wealth of a man was measured by the number of quality horses he could provide to the father of his bride-to-be. Native Americans also told stories around their fires at night, cared for their needy and elderly, wasted nothing of the buffalo they hunted, fought fiercely for what they believed in, and lived with nature. Of course, a four year old would admire such a people.

Our house was bordered by a thick forest of scrub pines and soaring poplars where a little girl could hide for hours on end, building twig fences and stick barns for a herd of plastic dime-store ponies. I could hide behind the massive trunks of the poplars and break bushy branches from the pines to build a fort to hide in and defend. It was my secret place where I could hear my mother call out that dinner was ready but no-one could find me except the squirrels scolding me from their nests above or the mother thrushes scratching beneath the pine needles for worms. From the chartreuse greens of spring to the dull, dry greens of summer, and the brilliant yellows and oranges of fall, the woods sheltered me from outsiders and gave me cooling shade and a place to bury each turtle or kitten or baby bird I found but couldn't save.

Life isn't easy. But if you can find what gives you strength, what gives you peace, you can make it through.

#horselover #booklover #native #firstnations #turtleisland #wildlife #conservationist

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  • Writer's picturejstanion1890

I received a public education from nursery school (what we now call pre-K) until I graduated from high school in 1974. I thought I was well educated. This book revealed a version of history I couldn't have imagined and was never taught.

Once I began writing our family's application to the National Register of Historic Places, I saw how many different versions of family "history" there were. It was my husband's family actually - mine only by marriage. I'd heard many stories about the family's past from brothers and sisters, grandmother, aunts, uncles and neighbors. Of course, I had my own version of recent family history, but I felt as if I knew "Goggles", the young man who wore thick glasses and lived in the tenant house under three massive oaks on the upper edge of the "gully" pasture. I knew about the young man who fell in the well in the "back back" pasture and had seen the fescue seeds scattered where they had dried on the floor of the house where Goggles lived. I knew about Floyd's broken ankles (both at once) after his brothers dared him to jump out of the hayloft of the old barn where they were sneaking a smoke. So many stories...notebooks full. And yet, as I tried to keep within the word limits of the application, I realized some stories couldn't be included. I had to choose. Whose stories? What made the farm historic?

That's when I realized that many of the stories included the same events and characters, so I decided to look for the "overlap". What part of the story stood out to all the storytellers? That's where I found the important stories. So what does this have to do with The Other Slavery?

I was an "outsider" writing a family's history. Every story I collected had been told from the perspective of someone in the family. I recorded them all, but each individual knew only their own version of the story. As the writer, I got to pick which stories were recorded. I had to consciously select what others would read about our family.

Thank you to this author for choosing to tell these stories, for revealing this perspective. It was not included in the history books I studied.

It's not an easy read, but it's an eye=opening perspective of history. Enjoy!!!

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  • Writer's picturejstanion1890

Don't believe all you have to do is vote!!!

I've never missed voting in an election...not since I reached the magical age of 18. Fifty years. That's a lot of votes.

And in the next couple of years, this is what my neighborhood may look like. That pasture where my horses graze? The sunsets over the terraces where cows watch over their calves?

Of course, they won't be paved over. But with such as this surrounding us, how long can we pay the taxes? How will we move equipment from field to field? Will it be safe for our grand-boys to drive a 4-wheeler across the road to the barn to feed their show calves? I've even heard that federal easements we placed on our land to protect it can be removed or condemned. For the good of the people........

What about fresh local food? Beef that you know where it grazed and where it was processed? What about that gorgeous sunset you watched over our hay field last summer? Or the fact that we mow the grass on the right-away and pick up all the trash instead of waiting on the county crew to come by? The roses, day lillies, and iris I planted along the fence line to beautify your view as you drive past our home?

Sometimes I get tired of what it takes. The birdie fingers because we were going slow in the tractor. The horn-honking because we were moving cows across the road to fresh grass and somebody was in a hurry to get to town. The meetings where someone from the local university asks, " What can we do to help you market your product?"

I can do that myself. Been doing it for over forty years. Can you please stop the developers from being so greedy? Can you find a way to make our cities more pleasant so people will want to live there? Can you build bigger parks where children can climb in trees and roll in the grass? Can you please tell people that agriculture is an industry? An industry that we may soon learn we can't live without!!!

#horselover #reading #booklover

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