By Charles Towne
Written while driving through the medicine mound area of Texas on Highway 287.
I speed across a land of memories, of hopes, of dreams. In hours I travel distances that would have taken days of hard riding to cover In a Conestoga wagon150 years ago. I pull off to the side of the road, stop; climb out of my truck and stand there, gazing into the distance. All is still. Suddenly, a breeze kisses my cheek and I hear a sound; no, I feel the sound. I turn and stare in wonder.
It can’t be.
I not only hear them but I see them, smell them, taste the dust stirred up by their multitude. The ground trembles beneath their hooves while the very air pulsates with the power and magnificence of their passing. The herd is vast! There must be thousands of them, no, tens of thousands. I have never fancied time travel but here I am, in another time, another dimension. As far as I can see the herd of buffalo blackens the landscape to the horizon and beyond. Then, quite suddenly, I see something else. Seemingly out of the ground, out of what must be a dry creek bed, an arroyo, rides a group of men on horseback, five, six, no, seven Indians. They pull up and sit their restless mounts as they also watch the herd of buffalo thundering past. The great horned beasts ignore the red men for this is natural, as it should be, the way it has always been. One of the Indians turns and gazes in my direction. He shakes his head, and then, shielding his eyes against the sun’s glare with one hand, he stares, long and hard. He obviously speaks to his companions for now they also turn and search the landscape. He points at me and his companions scan the land where I stand in an effort to see that which their companion thinks he sees. But then, I need not be concerned for they cannot see me, I am in another time, another dimension. They turn back to study the herd, and then, in single file, one by one they drop out of sight into that same dry wash from whence they had come. One Indian remains, he who first looked in my direction. Controlling his horse with knee pressure he turns and stares, his curiosity obvious. But then, surely he cannot see me? He starts to follow his companions but then, quite suddenly he turns toward me again, heeling his horse into a gallop. When he is within a stone’s throw he pulls up and stares boldly. In his right hand he carries a war lance and to judge from the way he holds the lance he knows how to use it.
He stares at me and then at the herd of buffalo that still thunders past in the distance.
Then, shifting the lance to his left hand he raises his right hand, palm toward me in a gesture of friendship. A smile crosses his face as he studies me. He looks toward the buffalo again and I notice that the herd is beginning to thin. He points at the herd and then at me. I am not sure what he means. Then, raising the lance, he stabs it into the ground, and, turning, he rides away. Just before vanishing into the wash that his friends have ridden into, he turns once more and waves, a friendly gesture, across time. I wave back. Then he is gone and the thundering herd of buffalo disappears into the distance, and then, all is still. Have I been dreaming? But wait, there, standing upright where he left it is the war lance! Could it be? The lance is obviously decorated with feathers for they move and flutter in the faint breeze as I walk forward.
The buffalo are gone, as is my Indian friend, but the lance, the war lance is still there! As I approach the lance the spell is suddenly broken, for there, standing where it was driven into the earth is a surveyor’s stake, those feathers fluttering in the wind nothing but orange surveyors ribbon.
Lord, please help us to be what you want us to be. Help us to be respectful of others, to honor our neighbor as we wish to be honored, to love as we want to be loved, and to offer the hand of friendship to them that offer it to us in sincerity. Help us to love as you love. Thank you O Holy one, in Jesus wonderful name we ask it, Amen
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.