Three thousand acres of old-growth prairie is at the backdoor of Fort Worth near Lake Benbrook.
I put the last acres of Flying Hat Ranch up for sale last week. The location for 29.15 acres is 38295 N SH 108, Mingus, TX. The posts of Sage to Meadow since 2009 have been centered on that ranchito, which had started out at fifty-three acres. Ranch Realty Pro, the broker being J. Bryan Davis, of Stephenville is handling the sale the land.
Yes, I am sad, even grieving, that we had to sell. But the traffic to and from Fort Worth on Interstate 20 has become risky, even dangerous. (From my home in Fort Worth to the Far Field is seventy-two miles.)
So this morning, I searched for public places near me that I could go out and trek and commune with nature. I found just a few miles away, the Fort Worth Prairie Park that is under the purview of the Great Plains Restoration Council.
3,000 acres of old-growth prairie
I never knew the prairie was so close, so protected from development.
I took my Nikon camera and hiked three-quarters of mile into the prairie. I could see the flags of Fort Worth development and hear the planes overhead, but no matter, I wandered with the prairie and found wild onion and spring blossoms. I came across an old campsite (historic) that had not been used for several years. Here are some of the photos of my afternoon.
If you choose, you may follow this arroyo for a tenth-of-a-mile down to the Colorado River at Bend, Texas. The above photo was taken in early spring, this year.
When I was ten or eleven-years old, I built two fragile, but sturdy, bridges across the arroyo. They have long since collapsed from my “construction” in the 1950s. Seventy-plus years ago. There’s neither sign of them, nor of the water pump and pipeline used to bring water from the Colorado up to my grandmother’s house in Bend. The water filled a 500-gallon tank that often overflowed when I failed to turn the pump off at night. The house my grandmother stayed in was the Southwestern States Telephone house, holding the switchboard for Bend and surrounding area. Effie Morris Parks was my grandmother’s name, and she had been born and reared in the Bend community.
Effie drove to San Saba every couple of weeks for supplies, and I maintained the switchboard for customers to reach one another and the outside world.
This early spring of 2022, my wife and I drove to Bend, and I gave her a memory tour of Bend. The switchboard has been removed, the telephone lines coiled up, the poles cut down. My little bridges are gone as well. But there’s cell service and a new bridge across the Colorado.
I have memories I’ll turn into stories from the Bend, Texas Arroyo and the spirit of those days will be reconstituted with a “bridge” to my past.
The table of six at Ojo Verde Inn began to eat their food and those facing Paseo de Norte looked out of the window next to the street and saw eighteen wheelers carrying logs from fresh cuts in the Carson National Forest. Snow had frozen to the bark of the fresh cut logs…. Those at the table that faced away from the street glanced upward at vigas in the ceiling and at artwork for sale on the wall. The prices for artwork of local Ojo Verde artists were priced to sell and the Pinion-Buttermilk Pancake woman eyed the brilliantly-hued painting of the Tulona Pueblo….
“I will buy that painting and make a place for it in my living room,” the Pinon-Buttermilk Pancake woman said to herself. When brunch was over, she went to the front desk of the Ojo Verde Inn, and out of her billfold she carefully placed seven-hundred dollars on the counter, buying the painting outright. As time went on in her life, she never regretted the purchase and her children rotated the painting amongst themselves after she died…. The Pinon-Buttermilk Pancake woman gave an additional tip to her server at the Inn because she wanted to remember and enlarge the morning at brunch as a generous morning, a time punctuated with giving, and with art.
An excerpt from the novel by Jack Matthews, Death at La Osa.
Some of my current writing involves turquoise extracted from mines close to Taos, New Mexico. I purchased this 25 carat piece of turquoise that came from the King’s Manassa mine near Manassa, Colorado, that is just over the border from New Mexico north of Taos. The lapidary had begun to polish the turquoise and I bought it in this unfinished, but impressive, state. It was not expensive in its unrefined state. The provenance was documented by the jeweler at the lapidary in Taos. Notice the golden matrix (not gold, the color gold) and slightly greenish cast along with the cerulean blue. The Manassa mine is not worked anymore. It was originally a mining site by Ancestral Pueblo peoples. L.P. King in 1890 found stone hammers and mallets about the site. King’s descendants still own the claim on private land.
The purchase of this King’s Manassa turquoise is an object of inspiration for my writing, like an old photograph or piece of music that is played. I think you know what I am writing about, don’t you? When you write a letter or email to a close friend, do you not have a photograph to remind you of your connection?
I have a close friend in Amarillo, Texas, who is in poor health, but when I write him, I have in front of me a group picture of us (with other friends) to remind me of when we were young and robust and had years (we hoped) in front of us.
So it is with this blue-green turquoise with golden matrix that is placed to the left of my word processor when I write of northern New Mexico mining claims. The stone helps me start thinking. Below is a photograph from Joe Dan Lowry and Joe P. Lowry, Turquoise Unearthed: An Illustrated Guide, that shows King’s Manassa turquoise in jeweled splendor.
Pop Chalee’s Shalakos and Mudheads is a large painting, about eight feet in length. I saw this painting a few months ago. I’m not for sure it is still on exhibit. You need to email or call to find out if it is still displayed. I am currently in Taos and may go to the museum today.
I retired from teaching in 2015 at Cisco College. I had been teaching college students since 1965, starting as graduate assistant at Texas A&M.
Currently, I am conducting research and writing historical monographs relating to acequias and Old Spanish metrics of measurement in the 16th and 17th centuries as applied to explorations in New Mexico.
I am also writing fiction and have an accumulation of finished short stories as well as some longer pieces.
I spend a lot of time writing and conducting research in Fort Worth, Texas, and Taos, New Mexico.
When I can I will post photographs and posts on Sage to Meadow.
Several ceremonies are scheduled at Taos Pueblo over the next few weeks. Consult their website for more information.
Looking westward toward the Truchas Peaks, New Mexico, November 2017.
I have been traveling to Taos, New Mexico, several times in the past year. I stop at this spot near Mora Pass that is up in altitude from Sipapu Lodge in order to look back at the mountains before I head down the Mora Pass to Holman, Cleveland, Mora, and Las Vegas. The valley you see in the foreground is the starting valley and surrounds for Rio Pueblo that flows eventually into the Rio Grande near Embudo.
I have climbed two of the three Truchas Peaks, encountering Bighorn sheep on the trail to the summit. I was in my twenties when I climbed; now I am seventy-five years old and I stop and look back on the mountains and my life, the near and the faraway.
Lately, within the last few weeks, I have seen near my home in Fort Worth the most beautiful coyote poised and stationary alongside the Chisholm Trail Tollway, its coat shiny and tail bushy and full. In my frontyard, two racoons ambled by and climbed into the trees. A bluejay in the neighborhood warns others of my approach as I walkabout. At my Far Field near Mingus, Texas (the source of most of my posts on this blog), I have heard the Sandhill Cranes in the sky, but failed to see them catch the thermals. But, I hear them. I see the turned soil of wild hogs in my field, the voles that run away from my tractor when I shred mesquite. When I was in Lubbock at Thanksgiving I heard and saw flocks of Canadian geese in the air and along the playas of the region.
Magpies fly across the backyard of my daughter’s home in Taos.
I am looking and I see the wild on this earth. I am having a conversation with the wild. And, I listen so attentively and look so closely that I am beginning to grieve as I never had before.
Arroyo Miranda, the final leg of El Camino Real looking south towards Picuris. This photo taken on the outskirts of Talpa, near Taos, New Mexico, April 18,2017.
This photo is framed for a historical record. It is not a pretty picture per se , but accurate as to the Royal Road from Mexico City northward to Santa Fe, the pueblos, and Taos.
According to Spanish documents, this final part of the Royal Road leading to Taos went from Trampas to Picuris Pueblo, slightly east to Vadito, then up Telephone Canyon around Picuris Peak, and then connecting with the Arroyo Miranda, traversing the east side of the arroyo. The above photograph is looking south, up towards the Picuris Peak area. Lying behind me is Talpa that is close to Rancho de Taos and Taos.
The map below indicates the route into Rancho de Taos. Note Telephone Canyon, Arroyo Miranda, Rancho de Taos, and Taos.
Carson National Forest Map, 2017.
The following are my field notes from the trip, showing the route as I described.
Jack Matthews Field Notes, April 18, 2017.
The El Camino Real is only partially open to public transit through the Carson National Forest. The final leg is on private land and closed to public transit. The Royal Road, however, can be followed within two miles of Talpa and one can sidestep to SH 518 and hike into Taos.
Last September I attended a water association meeting in Penasco, New Mexico. The acequia photographed above is one of several thousand water ditches and collateral offshoots in New Mexico. This ditch alongside the road to Dixon, New Mexico, is not a part of the water association at Penasco although the two towns are close together and divert off of the Embudo Watershed.
Snow on the west side of the Ranchos de Taos St. Francis Church is in the photograph above–although I am sure everyone recognizes the church. It snowed about five inches this morning. Junipers and piñon hold snow. The sun will come out and warm us.
I put up these links in the footer because I like these places to eat, shop, get information, show awards, etc. I make neither money nor keep stats on how many links are opened from my site to these other places. The only centavos I have made from my blog was a $60.00 one-time fee from the Texas Hunters Online Course that I have on my blog. No one has mentioned whether I get kick-backs, but I thought I would give a disclosure nonetheless. I have the PayPal seal on my site for the Texas Hunters Online Course. That's all. Thanks and enjoy these links.
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I gladly welcome your use of excerpts with full and clear credit given to Jack Matthews and Sage to Meadow with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Use of any material on this blog for commercial or profiteering purposes is expressly prohibited without authorized consent.
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