Okies on Tour: the Jelly Making Trail

Since last summer, I’ve wanted to find the Jelly Making Trail, an Oklahoma Tourism attraction set up to lead consumers to all the fabulous fresh fruit picking places in the state.
I forgot all about it in the following year and last week ended up on it. Serendipitously.
How? Because of a Peach Need.
Every June, when the heat rises, and the grass grows because of all the glorious rain, I swear at the Heat — I’m not a fan of the hot — and then swear at the grass — because I’m not a fan of the Mow — but I do mow in the ridiculous heat because there’s nothing quite so magnificent as a cold peach after a long ride on the Deere.
Unless it’s an ice cold beer.
BUT. A chilled fresh peach AND a dripping-down-the-sides-cold beer?
Good googly-moogly, that’s the STUFF right there.
(Insert longing whistle and an appreciative head shake.)
But in June, I lean toward peaches, because after a long spell of Letting Them Grow, the trees are officially on duty, producing phantasmagorical delights. And every year, I’ve been lackluster in my efforts to get out to the Wind Drift Orchard in east OKC before the season ends.
(I’m not great at planning ahead. Also, again, if it’s hot outside, I really see no need for being anywhere but in the doors.)
And by the end of peach pickin’ season, the grass has finally given up on tormenting me and chosen to go dormant.
Thus, my presence is no longer required atop the mower.
So I don’t need a peach.
But the beer…
Well, anyway, I’ve wandered off course.
Wind Drift Orchard, located East of Oklahoma City, is a hidden paradise. We pulled through the entrance — only a modest sign to proclaim its existence — rolled over a rise in the drive, and behold, across the valley: a seemingly endless landscape worthy of Monet’s brush: acres of peach trees, all popping with red and orange orbs, screaming to be chosen to go home with me.
I was not one to deny such pleading.
We parked the truck and moments later, our chariot awaited: a canopied carriage driven by a friendly fellow willing to deliver us over the acreage to the day’s Best Spot, where the freshest, most Pick-That-Peach-NOW fruit hung precariously from slender branches.
“Try the fruit,” he requested as he handed us bags to hold our treasure. “Eat them, so you’ll know how good they are.”
He had me at “Try,” the only request I needed.
And try I did! Peach nectar ran down my arms, onto my toes, before I finally got wise enough to bend over, thus  saving my feet from juicing. And ants. I pictured ants, coming to feast upon my delicate digits. (Shudder.)
Bubs used about two and one half minutes to fill his bag with fruit. Ready to pick? Didn’t know. Red and ripe and juicy? Didn’t ask. He simply filled his bag, asked, “Ready?” and looked down the empty lane, awaiting the appearance of our tractor ride back to the truck.
Me? Oh, sweet pits o’ goodness, I took my time. I fondled more peaches than was absolutely necessary. I certainly Taste Tested more than required. And I had a wonderful time in my haze of All-This-At-My-Disposal-and-I-Only-Have-this-ONE-TINY-BAG?
The tractor of return came, announced by, “Mom, he’s here!” and, seeing that I wasn’t ready for the escort, went, leaving Bubs to shout, “Mom, he’s leaving!” and stare indignantly, hands on his hips, face frowning in confusion, as the poor man retreated, leaving Bubs to marvel at the indecency of stranding a young boy with his mother, who gave not three shakes of a peach leaf about leaving just yet.
“Do you think he’s coming back?” my Bubs implored, curious as to how he would survive (could he survive??) in the wilderness of six foot trees for the foreseeable future of at least five more minutes. I watched his face as he mentally calculated turnaround time to be at least five…whole…minutes…
Finally, though, sated and weighed down under peachy goodness, we accepted — begrudgingly on my part, while Bubs practically skipped onto the deck — the second offer of a ride back to civilization.
I haven’t told the Bubs yet, but we’re going back in July, when a dozen more varieties will be ripe and ready to come home with me.
Plus, now that I’m a connoisseur and harvester, I need to investigate the Jelly Making Trail to see where it leads us next.

The Day’s Catch: twelve pounds of fruit.
Treasure retrieved and safely ensconced within the domicile: less than twelve pounds.
And I really need to get the truck detailed now; who knew peaches were so messy?

Anyway. Fruit is chilling, and now I’m skipping off to mow the fields.

Another Day, Another Eye-Opening Book(s)

I’ve been reading again.
It led in interesting directions, so I’m hoping you’ll follow my trail.
Okie author Jennifer Latham’s “Dreamland Burning” is written for young adults. It’s the story of two fictional young people narrating the account of a very real event, the Tulsa race riot of the early 1900’s.
Of course, being regional, the location appealed right away. I didn’t know the book’s premise, and once I opened the covers, I was a bit queasy. I vaguely knew about the abomination that happened in Tulsa’s city streets, when whites got mad that blacks existed and decided to gang up and be jerks, in the very most upper levels of jerky-ness that jerks can be.
(I have delicate fingers. My palate can’t stand to verbalize or write the true words that come to mind when the anger this story evokes wells up.)
So insert your favorite incendiary verbiage here, about truly heinous people, and know that racism is the ugliest. And racist packs, fueled by heat and unquestioned loyalty to ignorance, are intolerable.
So, at first, until I knew the true subject matter, I enjoyed the references to familiar Tulsa places as much as I enjoyed meeting Will and Rowan, the two leading teen aged characters. But when their stories kicked into high gear, my heart raced, and I got so involved in what’s-next-what’s-next that the just conclusion came too quickly.
What is even more interesting, is that not only does Latham talk about the atrocities of Tulsa’s racial divide, but Will is part Native American. His grandmother was murdered by evil greedy men, part of another true and horrific state secret, the Osage Indian murders. Native American women were killed because of money, especially that tangled up with oil and mineral rights. David Grann, author of the highly praised “The Lost City of Z,” chronicled the Oklahoma story in a book published in April of this year titled “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
I drove through Pawhuska just a couple of months ago — ironically, it may have been April! — thinking it was a ho-hum, tiny town, its most interesting attribute being that its street signs made me slow down for a couple of miles on the way to my destination, another thriving metropolis of about 50,000 folks, an hour or so further down the trail.
Pawhuska in 2017 did not strike me as eventful in any way, but it certainly was a hotbed of furious — literally furious, unhampered, and evil activity a hundred years ago.
Too much terrible history, too close together, in a state that has never seemed overly large but now seems especially tight quarters to fester so much hate.
By Oklahomans.
Against other Oklahomans.
And current Okies know little to nothing about any of it until a full century later?
Ignorance of history, atop so much hate and violence, equals further abomination.
Read these books. Let’s talk.