Shawnee News-Star Sunday December 10th 2017 Becky Emerson Carlberg Audrey Hendershot had lived 94 years on this earth before she died Friday, the first of December.   The daughter of Oklahoma pioneers, Audrey grew up during the years of the Great Depression and the Oklahoma dust bowl.   She had a full life and in 2009 became […]

Shawnee News-Star Sunday December 10th 2017

LED Christmas tree with lighted forest

Becky Emerson Carlberg

Audrey Hendershot had lived 94 years on this earth before she died Friday, the first of December.   The daughter of Oklahoma pioneers, Audrey grew up during the years of the Great Depression and the Oklahoma dust bowl.   She had a full life and in 2009 became a certified bona fide Multi-County Master Gardener.   I liked Audrey and enjoyed the company of this gentle soul that often had a lively sparkle to her eyes.  You had to wonder what lurked behind them.  Her ears may not have worked as well as she would have liked, but Audrey took delight in coming to meetings and being with her gardening friends.  She timed her departure before the real cold of winter hit.

This past week has been colder and continues bone dry.     The birdseed is securely inside the metal garbage bin, but this has not stopped the raccoons and squirrels from searching high and low for seeds and other protein foods.   Weeks ago I located my box of dried leaves, corn in the husks, wax pilgrim candles and salt dough turkey. The assemblage was to grace the table as my seasonal tribute to Thanksgiving.    Small white beetle larvae were wiggling at the bottom of the storage box.   Oh oh.   When I lifted out the ears of dried corn, many kernels were missing, but a few miniature grubs were still busy at work.   How did the small female grain beetles find their way into my carefully packed container and lay their eggs? The corn had been used many years in Halloween and Thanksgiving displays and had never been attacked.   Wrong word:   munched.   This year the food cache had been discovered.   The corn and their tiny grub escorts were taken outdoors and arranged around the pumpkin on the porch.   Looked quite festive.   The pilgrims and turkey would have to represent Thanksgiving by themselves this year, if the turkey holds on.   The bird, a five inch dried and painted salt and flour figure about 20 years old, may need to be rebuilt.   One eye, the bill, and the snood that falls over the bill had crumbled away, giving the bird a flat-faced appearance.   With a Sharpie pen I drew in another eye.   The turkey could see again, but he still will not be able to eat.   The turkey tried to tell me getting old sucks, but he could only blink in Morse Code since his bill was gone.

Raccoon Supper

The corn cobs around the pumpkin had been artfully rearranged the next morning.   The sidewalk from the front door out to the driveway was decorated with corn cobs and loose kernels of corn.   The cobs were piled back around pumpkin, husks sticking into the air.   Now the scene was transformed from festive to pumpkin having a bad hair day.   When I got back after Thanksgiving, I discovered one piece of corn had been dragged around to the back of the house, one was at the side of the greenhouse and another wound up under a cedar tree.   No one touched the pumpkin.   The mobile corn cobs were stripped naked.   The pumpkin was embarrassed.   The critters had been very active during the mild nighttime temps, but most hunting came to a halt this past week with the cold nights.

Last Sunday we traveled to Norman to watch the matinee performance of Hansel and Gretel in the University Theater.   The School of Music students put on an entertaining opera and we were treated to some fine voices, acting and musical accompaniment.   Hansel and Gretel was a fable told in oral tradition, was written down by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1812.   It is rather gruesome to think a cannibalistic old woman lives in a gingerbread house in the middle of the Black Forest and lures children into her home to be fatten up and eaten.   Poor Hansel and Gretel had to endure their insufferable mother/ stepmother, depending on the rendition, and their father the wood-cutter has trouble making ends meet.   Some say the story originated during a time of famine in Germany and, without food, kids may have been abandoned or sacrificed.   Regardless, the music by Engelbert Humperdinck I love, especially 'Evening Prayer,' the beautiful song about fourteen angels who come to protect Hansel and Gretel as they sleep.

Santa coming to town in style

Darkness was falling as we drove into Midwest City and over to the Joe B. Barnes Regional Park.  The 22nd Illumination Celebration had started November 17th and lights will shine each night until December 30th.     We walked the path through the park and could see many of the lights, but the 1.5 mile road display is designed for motorized vehicles.   Turn on the radio to hear Christmas music coordinated with the dancing lights. The highlight in my opinion was the 118 foot Christmas tree with over 9,000 LED bulbs that flashed in sync with the grove of decorated trees nearby.   Down the road Santa is casting out his line into the waterfall teaming with jumping fish, and elves are busily producing candy canes in a factory, all done in multi-colored lights.   Pretty cool light show.

In 1984 the regional park was named after Joe Barnes (1931-2013.)   The former Navy man served 6 years as Midwest City Councilman, 19 years as OK County Treasurer, was entrepreneur of several businesses, staunch supporter of Midwest City and one of the founding fathers of Rose State College.

The name Joe Barnes rings a loud bell in my head. Another Joe Barnes, far, far away in East Anglia, England, was riding his bicycle (with no light and it was dusk) down church hill path, didn't see me walking ahead of him, and ran into me from behind (probably about the same time the MWC Park was being named after their Joe Barnes.)  I became airborne, landed hard, my nose was broken in 3 places, the right side of my face, eye and lips bounced on the gravelly path, and both  knees scraped  the ground.  Joe was sooo sorry. Me too.   An operation was required to fix my deviated septum that also redesigned my nose. I won't forget Joe Barnes, the man, the legend.

Natural Illumination at Joe Barnes Park