Our original intention was to go to Arkansas and maybe stop by to visit Mike’s cousin. Our first little stop was on 160 just before Dexter, Kansas. Frequent stops are required for us because of Mike’s back and my RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis). I don’t mind because it forces us to take our time and find hidden gems along the roadside. This first stop was on the corner of a dirt road and the highway.
Three neglected geldings were grazing in a mostly dirt filled pen. It was only about half an acre. The condition of these gentle creatures was very poor. Their hooves were in need of expert care, cracked and curling up towards their shins. The coats that hung on these thin majestic creatures were mottled with chunks of crusting mud and balding patches with sores. There ribs were visible underneath their overlooked hides. It was a sad sight. Despite their apparent mistreatment by people, they sauntered to the fence where we stood.
Mike grabbed a patch of long thick leaves. I grabbed patches of newly sprouted rye grass. The first horse that approached the fence nibbled on my offering a little bit but then he darted towards Mike and inhaled what he had to give. I was enjoying rubbing the muzzle of the last horse to come to the fence. He seemed to be on the bottom of the tiny social structure that was in this paddock. His condition was the worst of the three. He had a few large sores on the inside of his spindly legs. I pitied him but there was a connection with this one.
“They really like this stuff over here.” Mike pointed to a large patch that looked similar to several of the tall patches that dotted the pasture and were on the corner around the power pole outside the fencing.
“Whatever you have, it smells like onions.” I grabbed a nice cluster of these juicy greens but the horses backed away from the fence. One horse took and separated what Mike said they liked and spit it to the ground. They ate the few pieces of weeds that had come along for the ride with the other plants I picked. “I don’t think they like those plants. He just tossed what I gave him in the dirt and didn’t touch it.”
“I think they are onions. Look.” he held up a large bundle, roots and all. Sure enough, they were onions. We were surprised by discovering wild onions. The horses made their way away from us. Tired, I suppose of us attempting to feed them onions instead of the fresh, bright, green weeds they preferred. Mike started the bike. It startled the trio and set the sprinting to the corner farthest from us.
We stopped again in Cedarvale to put gas in our tank, grab a drink and buy smokes for Mike. The town was basically the tiny gas station surrounded by minute structures falling into disrepair. I discovered a ladybug on Mike’s back as he started to fill the tank. We considered it a lucky blessing for our trip. The road we traveled was very scenic. I love the Flint Hills. It delights me to travel through them. Watching as the horizon ebbs and flows like a sea hued with nature’s vibrancy. It is for me an inspiring landscape. The creams, tans and light oranges of the flint interspersed with greens, greys, bright yellows, oranges, brilliant purples and flashes of an occasional blue or violet.
I can embrace the awe I have for this section of country in a more intimate way on the bike. You get to touch the scenery and be touched by it. There are too many distractions in a car. The car ride dulls the experience. It steals the emotional connection of the place from you. I was never aware of how much I had missed of what surrounded me in a vehicle. When the casket of glass and metal are removed the richness of life is able to flow into the soul in a profound way. It releases the chains and lets loose an abundance of beauty unrivaled by any modern convenience. It allows for introspection and connection to the vast possibilities that abound. This, for me, is church.
To Be Continued . . .