In September 2002, I managed an archeological surface survey of Poly Cemetery in Fort Worth, Texas, for the Poly Cemetery Association and their descendants. The History Club at Texas Wesleyan University assisted in the fieldwork. The next day after conducting the survey, my mother called and said my step-father was diagnosed with leukemia and his prognosis was grim. My wife and I canceled our trip to France. Lufthansa gave us a full refund when my step-father’s doctor sent them a letter. He died in December 2002, and mother in April 2003. I was not able to complete the report of the surface survey analysis until 2006, and then in 2008, the State of Texas awarded a Historical Survey Marker for the cemetery, the 1,000th cemetery marker for the state.
I was proud of the work we had accomplished as a survey crew that September day in 2002, but the photographs and field notes I inscribed always remind me of how my life was changed the day after the survey. Within a week after the Poly survey, I began to manage, among several things, two horses: Lilly and Star. After I settled the estate of my parents, I purchased another horse, a mare, Sweet Hija, a legacy horse of King Ranch.
From Sweet Hija came Shiners Fannin Peppy or “Fanny” as she is affectionately named. Several posts have been centered around Fanny’s training with Duncan Steele-Park over at the GCH Land & Cattle Co. near Weatherford, Texas. Life changed, and the good and bad were different from 2002. Overall, this time, good came about.
Since 2002, one good emerging is this road and where it takes me. This is the road from the ranch house through the grove and down the creek bed and up onto Pecan Tree Pasture adjacent to the Bryant place. The road must be maintained. Erosion from rain, not wind, force me to grade the road by blade or allow erosion to continue. The road is passable by tractor most of the time. When it is graded, car and pickup can travel the road. We take picnic baskets with red-checkered tablecloths and have a feast in the shade of the tree, usually on the tailgate of the pickup. In Novembers, we drink Beaujolais Nouveau beneath the pecan tree with our picnic of french bread, meats, cheeses, pates and tapenade. The new wine is not as robust as we like, but it is the new crop of vino. The horses will stand off and graze if they are in the pasture, looking up occasionally when they detect a rapid motion under the tree, a flapping of the tablecloth. In parking, we angle our pickup so that we can look in the direction that has no power lines, no buildings in view, only trees and ridge line. The direction is West. We spill some wine on the ground, a Lakota custom we have adopted in honor of the departed ones, and we talk about our family and of things to come, the days after the Poly Survey.