Thursday, April 09, 2009

End of the World - Oklahoma Burning

My business partner Ray and I had a meeting today with a law firm that does oil and gas work for us. They have a new (at least to them) two-story office building in a part of downtown Oklahoma City known as the Deep Deuce.

In years past, mostly black Americans populated the “Deuce” and it was a business and cultural center. Ralph Ellison, author of Invisible Man, wrote a poem about the Deep Deuce titled Deep Two. It was also the purview of legendary musician Charlie Christian.

The area fell into disarray in the sixties, remaining that way until a decade or so ago when the advent of Oklahoma City’s Bricktown returned the area to prominence. Our attorney’s building is a beautifully restored brick structure that exudes history. As Ray and I left the law office and headed north on the Broadway Extension, we both noticed the gray haze of the sky.

“It’s probably airborne dirt from the plowed fields,” Ray said.

Winds blowing and swirling at high speeds caused our vehicle to sway as we proceeded on our course. I worried about Marilyn, on her way to Ardmore to pick up daughter Katelyn for the weekend. She called, telling me that a fire in the Arbuckle Mountains had shut down traffic on I-35 and she was detoured down Highway 77, through the little town of Davis.

Ron, my son-in-law’s plane, coming in from Kansas City, could not land at Will Rogers Airport because of strong crosswinds. He is spending the night in Dallas. Flames raked Stepson Shane’s farm near Wellston. His horses and dogs survived, the grass on his property cut low, but his wooden fences burned.

I soon learned that the gray sky was not the result of blowing dirt. It was smoke. As I pen this story, fires are burning all over Oklahoma, stoked by high gusting winds. I could not even call Marilyn, or she me because cell phones do not work in smoke so thick. Once again, Oklahoma is burning and it reminded me of the Deep Deuce.

Three years ago, I was writing about Oklahoma burning. The persistent drought ended abruptly with two years of the most rainfall in recorded history for this state. The Deep Deuce fell into disarray but now encompasses some to the most desirable real estate in Oklahoma City. Drought that had plagued Oklahoma for years and that seemed doomed by months of ever-increasing rain has returned.

The scenario reminded me that no matter how fast things change, they are cyclical. Like the rest of the world, we are destined to experience highs and lows, and peaks and valleys. Fortunately, the bads and the goods never seem to happen at the same time. If they ever do, I suppose that would be the end of the world.

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