A Familiar Clanging Noise

From The Ogallala Road, Part I, “A Rare Find”

“I heard a familiar clanging noise. I looked up to see a white pickup coming down the hill pulling an empty metal stock trailer behind it. Great! I thought. Now I’ve got to deal with some yokel out here in the middle of nowhere.

“I tried to warn you,” my mother said in my head, where she’d resided for as long as I could remember.

Continue Reading »

Ogallala Aquifer Spring on Little Beaver

“I found the pond lying still and innocent, a receptive, vulnerable reflection of the sky. This wasn’t rainwater. It hadn’t rained in weeks. My brother Bruce had … told me he was worried that the ground would be too parched to plant dry-land winter wheat this September. No. This pond was what the pioneers and early settlers had called ‘live water.’ It had found the surface by itself without the aid of rain,

Continue Reading »

The Sound of Water in My Childhood

“The windmill’s fan whirred and the well rods creaked up and down, making a tinny, lonely sound. Water spurted from the pipe into a tank. These, not the growl of irrigation engines, were the sounds I equated with water while growing up. The rhythm was systolic, soothing.”

 

Continue Reading »

High on a Knoll

From Part I, A Rare Find

“My grandfather Carlson had built the house high on a knoll. With stately trees and a huge red barn beside it, it had been a landmark, visible for miles around. Now it was as if all evidence of our existence had been erased by the wandlike arm of the center-pivot irrigation sprinkler I’d parked beside.”

Continue Reading »

The Canyon Pasture

As The Ogallala Road begins, I have returned to Kansas to research the watershed where I was born and raised. I begin in what we called “the canyon pasture.” A canyon in that part of the country is not quite as dramatic as a canyon in say Utah. On a trip to Kansas this summer, I took this picture of a place that reminded me of what it looked like.

From the book,

Continue Reading »