Suchen und Finden
I am – via my heritage on my father’s side – a direct descendant of King David: One Thousand B.C.E. (Before the Common Era), who himself was a descendant of Abraham.
In Israel’s religious tradition, the royal line – or the House of David – became a symbol of the bond between God and the Nation. The king was the mediator between the deity and his people. And, as in many ancient traditions, the king was thought of as both divine and human. “Hameshiaeh” (The anointed one) was the title given to the kings of the line of David. This is where the word, Messiah, comes from.
After King David, came King Solomon, who was King of Judah. A red, twenty-carat marquis diamond ring – brought to him by the Archangel Michael – symbolized this anointment. The ring became known as the “Seal of Solomon,” and one of the most fascinating abilities of King Solomon was his magical power: a divine force over all creatures, natural or supernatural.
I was born and raised on a wheat farm in Yukon, Oklahoma, far, far away from anything remotely resembling civilization. I don’t know which is harder to believe; that I was literally born on the farm without a doctor’s supervision, that my birth took place in Oklahoma, or that Yukon itself was located far from civilization. Life was different back then, for me, for my parents, and for my two sisters. I can still see it through my inner child’s eyes... As far as I could see, from wherever I stood – whether it was on top of the highest hill, the large red barn, or the rusty old windmill that put me up three stories high – there was nothing but miles and miles of flat, open farmland. Man had made with the Earth what looked like a natural patchwork, a quilt of soil and seeds.
As a child raised on a farm, the natural world was all I had for entertainment; most of it derived from working as diligently as I could to get through the day. I remember an array of colorful horses and plump cattle grazing the rich, succulent green and brown fields, culling sustenance from what man had left behind after the harvest. Blue Jays, hawks and red robins soared through immense blue sky, singing everywhere around me in the trees, and searching the fields for fat mice or fat juicy June Bugs. The wind could blow gently and softly, but more often gusted harshly through the multifaceted patterns of wheat, corn and cotton; speaking a language only nature and I could understand. The smell of Sun-warmed sugar from the corn could be so strong; I yearned to take a bite out of the cob. The locust hum sounded like a lullaby, but sometimes I wished their violent clatter away so badly I thought I was going insane.
The drastic changes in the seasons only made the struggle to survive more desperate. Summer temperatures soared into the hundreds, the soup-like humidity the Sun’s equal in heat, and all of us losing skin to hot metals. I would get so hot and sweaty; I didn’t have the energy to do what needed to be done. The salt from perspiration stung my eyes and filled my mouth with the taste of rusted iron. Simply walking ten steps exhausted me. I couldn’t breathe because the air was so thick with red dirt; so intense, sometimes my mouth and teeth would be coated red with dust.
In this state of physical duress, I made palatable prey for the barking howl of coyotes, the screams from bobcats, and the screeches of the hawks and vultures falling from above onto pungent, stagnant, moss-filled ponds. It was the same way at night, the only difference being the nature of the sky predators – now I was easy quarry for the terrifying screeches of bats and owls.
Everything was easy prey in the summer and winter, but not so much in the crashing coldness of the fall; a seasonal shift changing what was once green to brown and golden, filling the autumn trees with brilliant reds and yellows. After fall’s visit, winter’s bitter cold came quickly; killing everything it could, or sending it south or beneath the ground for hibernation. All that remained was a blanket first with layers of metallic ice, then blinding white snow – deep in some places, as I was tall. The wind would blow, and blow and blow; howling in the night at sixty miles per hour, sending the wind-chill factor to sixty below zero, and freezing the fluid in my eyes. And once again I was vulnerable to lost skin – only this time it was frozen to icy metals.
And with the winter snows, a landscape of endless acres of white became quiet and still. I could hear the Earth spinning on its axis. This was the time I loved to sit and look out at the landscape. Winter, with its thousands of acres of brilliant white snow – as flat as the day is long – a soft pastel blue sky above with clouds as pure and white as the snow below; totally undisturbed by man or beast, nothing but white and blue, peace and quiet. You didn’t dare disturb it with your hands or feet, this world of total nothingness with its smell of burning firewood and the baby-like screams of deer as they raced away from coyotes and wildcats.
I’d wait as long as I could, but at some point, the intense desire to fill my mouth with snow and just go mess up that perfection would overcome me, and the biggest desire of my little heart would be to build snowmen or make snow angels. I yearned to throw snowballs at the cows or make my own artistic designs by stomping through all that white. I’d mix my tracks with those from deer, cows, and horses to create snow alien designs. I’d march out in the snow with a giant icicle in hand; throwing it like a spear made me feel like Thor.
After winter’s quiet came the hellish sounds of spring; frightening slashes of lightening, followed by crashing thunder. Tornadoes ripped trees from the ground by their roots, picking up cars and tractors and moving them to a farm three miles away. Clouds would come in so close you could reach out and touch them. And sometimes they would morph into evil entities of their own; their puffy gray, black and green formations arriving just before the rains came down to flood the fields and make rivers of red clay. The day could go from hot to cold in less than a minute, and the wind could change its direction just as fast. Instead of rain, the clouds would sometimes send down hail the size of golf balls – or worse, baseballs – shattering and exploding everything in their path; busting windows and denting the hoods of cars, even killing creatures that couldn’t run for cover. I’ve had my share of lumps on my head from hail.
But spring also brought one overwhelming aroma after another; an infinite assortment of prairie weeds, blue sage flowers and red buds, freshly tilled dirt for harvest (mixed with manure and fertilizer), barbecued beef, baked apple pie, and carbon monoxide from the tractors; and also the smell of my dad, who had the worst body odor imaginable. I loved dropping honeysuckle on my tongue; sometimes I’d rub it all over my body to keep from stinking like my dad. All the while, freshly cut hayfields and lawns would make me sneeze like a madman.
“Will I live here forever?” was my inner most thought. I had no idea anything else existed. The cuts I received from rusty old metal have certainly stayed forever, keeping their orange tinge, including the one under my right arm I got while carrying a piece of metal from the barn to the henhouse.
It would sometimes be a lonely month or two – sometimes even three or four – before I’d have the opportunity to see another person outside my own family. It was a rare treat indeed to get to go to town to buy something we couldn’t make or grow ourselves. But my chores would have to be entirely done before I was allowed to go to town. Often I was grateful when it came time to catch the large yellow bus for school, if for no other reason than it was somewhere else to go and be with people other than my own family. I don’t think they ever washed the red clay and dust off that bus; it was so thick, you could write your name on it (and I often did). It would always – and I do mean always – backfire in third gear and the exhaust would fill the cabin. The odor of lunchboxes could be disgusting most of the time, but every now and then I would crave someone’s freshly baked oatmeal cookies.
I was the best student there was in school, partly because I was so happy to be there. I was so appreciative of people who talked because no one in my family ever did. My dad yelled a lot, and my sisters cried a lot, but conversation simply did not exist. I loved to sit in the classroom and listen to the teachers tell their stories and give their lessons on life while eating apples. Mrs. Townley always wore perfume that smelled like a rose. She was so beautiful, with short blonde hair, and lime green eyes. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure Mr. Crow bathed in Brut. He was my fifth grade teacher, and he was always – and I do mean always – eating spicy beef jerky.
In the end, it didn’t matter how hot or cold those musty old, dark and dingy, body-odor-filled, turn of the twentieth century rooms were: I loved being there.
I would eavesdrop on my classmates’ conversations; standing in the loud and narrow hallways, crowded with overly enameled blue lockers, or in the schoolyard filled with pipe and iron swing sets, and squeaky merry-go-rounds. I was mostly curious about how much they had to say about their lives, to fantasize about how differently they lived. Most options sounded better than mine, naturally, but plenty sounded just...