We have a tradition in my house. We actually have several traditions. Some I would like to get rid of, like depositing dirty socks at the front door. But I have to admit, I love our Mother’s Day tradition of hiking in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. When people ask my husband our plans for Mother’s Day and he tells them hiking, they look horrified. Looks of pity enter they’re eyes. I’m sure that one of these days, a well-meaning person will send me their condolences.
But hiking is what I really want to do. I look forward to it, even. Why? Well, I’m so glad you asked.
- I have sons. Two of them are teenage sons, so they have eye-rolling down to an art. But they enjoy these trips. They get to boulder hop and compete against each other. And they smile!
- Buffalo. Technically, they’re bison. But the 59,020-acre wildlife refuge is home to many and other critters too—deer, longhorns (not the orange football playing type), and supposedly elk, although I’ve never seen one. And it’s free-range, so you might find buffalo in the road as well. Sometimes they bring traffic to a standstill. Oddly enough, no one seems to mind.
- Sense of history and power. The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was established in 1901 by Theodore Roosevelt. Before that, its history included camps for various Plains tribes and possibly a location for Jesse James’ treasure. The Wichita Mountains are very, very old…one of the oldest ranges in the U.S. That means they’re no longer very big. Time has worn them down, but if you listen to the wind, you can hear stories.
- Mother’s Day falls in the spring, and the refuge includes prairie lands. In the spring, wildflowers pop up, providing a colorful accompaniment to any hike.
- Tradition also says that after exhausting ourselves, we head over to Meers and stand in line for at least an hour. Meers is a former gold rush town/outpost. Now it’s a quaint and quirky burger joint serving humongous burgers from a private herd of longhorns and delivering a fat content less than turkey or dark meat chicken. Did I say it was delicious? It is.
For me, being outdoors in nature is a truly spiritual experience. Just like motherhood.