Today was absolutely perfect! The temperature under 80 but not too much, blue skies, fluffy white clouds, a cool breeze………..so of course we spent all of it outside.
Angie, George and I went to Pawhuska, Oklahoma, the Tallgrass Prairie Reserve and Osage Hills State Park.
We left Enid around 8:30 am and drove Northeast……….stopping briefly for gas and co-colas in Ponca City, then went on to Pawhuska.
The first time Angie and I traveled through this gorgeous little town, we stopped at a soon-to-be-open Osage Nation Visitors Center, so we had to check it out today…it IS open now after all!
Upon entering the building, we were greeted by a young girl (okay so she is at least 20 but believe me…that is danged YOUNG to me!) who said to look around, please sign the guest register and let her know if we needed anything. The building is small, but filled with gorgeous hand-crafted jewelry, clothing, bags, medicine bags, herbs and more. There were paintings by local and Native Artists hanging on the walls and prints of those were for sale.
There is a WiFi setup in the center of the main room for anyone to use, and an interactive computer program that visitors can “meet” the artists.
Angie was drawn to the jewelry..the beadwork was incredible..and I was drawn to the art and clothing.
George was too. While we were looking at the silk shawls on the back wall I noticed a tiny display of four walking sticks. (canes) Now, I use a cane..almost every day. My balance if off just enough to make me hesitate about walking in areas that I am unfamiliar with……..so I looked through them.
And found one that feels as if it were carved just for my hands. It had some butter-soft leather strips decorating the handle and I thought it reminded me of a gypsy shoulder bag I had as a teen…….I wanted it……..so I asked George and (of course) he said “sure Suze”. Heck he always says Yes…I am the one that is the “NO, Nope, No-how, No-way” remark-er.
Don’t you love my new cane?
I certainly do!
As I was purchasing the cane a woman wandered into the room and said “my cousin made that cane”..I turned in surprise and said “I LOVE this cane. It feels as if your cousin made it just for my hand!”…….And she told Angie and me about her cousin Bill Joseph Hickey of the Osage Nation.
Bill started his work life by helping his Dad weld in Phillips Petroleum properties in northern Oklahoma. Later, he worked in Baltimore, Maryland and along the east coast cutting down oil tanks. Following an injury, he moved on to his life’s work of native arts and crafts.
Bill followed the pow wow trail up and down the east coast. He established a following with his leather work, unique items, and leather-trimmed canes. He was known for his generosity in helping out dancers needing a quick repair or if they were short on a giveaway.
I told his cousin I had been an alcohol counselor, and she said “well Bill obviously carved this for you” as she handed it to me, I teared up thanking her….and we hugged. She said Bill had been in rehab over and over and just never “took”…but he adored his counselors. Sadly Bill died in 2018.
There were only four canes in the building and Mr. Hickey’s cousin said “those are the last ones he carved”. I feel privileged that she allowed me to buy one.
Next time you are wandering through Northern Oklahoma, head on over to Pawhuska. Go say hello to the lovely ladies who volunteer in the Osage Nation Visitor center and be sure to sign that guestbook. You can get a bite to eat down the street in El Vallarta’s Mexican restaurant…or just go spend some money in the terrific boutiques along Main Street. Truck on across Main and check out the Osage County Historical Museum…there are hundreds of interesting places and things to see in this unique town.
Personally, I can hardly wait to return.
I’ll tell you about Tallgrass Prairie tomorrow……..