Loaded with all the necessary tools useful for ditch robbing, along with the prodding of an old friend, I donned my black rubber boots and headed north on Avenue D to the outskirts of Katy. I drove under the 30-mph speed limit in order to soak in the change that has taken place since my childhood. Forty-five years ago, I could name every resident along Ave D as they were my playmates; the ones who did life together. Most of those homes have now changed owners, exterior paint, and landscaping. The once innocent childhood of running door to door to collect enough kids to play a game of kickball or mumble peg is gone and is replaced with busyness, traffic, noise and insecurity. This is called progress.
A small, fast car rode up close behind my bumper and honked. Obviously, the driver was not reminiscing and didn’t appreciate that I was reminiscing on his time. If he only knew what used to be…the honk of the horn snapped me back to my mission at hand and the reason for the tools in my car. The ditches are full of wild Amaryllis this time of year. They are all the same color, white with touches of pink veining. These Amaryllis thrive in warm organic mud. They love the wet, soggy soil of deep road ditches which at one time all flowed freely with water draining from the vast prairie of rice fields or a welcomed heavy rain. The long stemmed, wide leafed plants have come and gone for over a century, marking the entrance and passing of each spring. These beauties are about the only constant among the rapid pace of development and expansion that drives our once small, rice farming community. Morton, Clay, Beckendorff, and Stockdick School Roads all display these clusters of God’s handiwork.
Raising the shovel and embedding the steel into the thick mud, I was reminded of the hands that toiled long before me in the same fertile soil. In his younger years, my dad, Morris Oliver was one of those hands. His shovel was like his right arm as he labored in the fields moving dirt, making way for the flow of water to irrigate and sustain rice on the Katy prairie. Many calloused hands before him moved soil and assisted Katy’s agricultural progression. This morning, gripping my shovel like my dad and those settlers before him, I toiled to preserve a small piece of days long passed, by harvesting a wild Amaryllis to be planted and shared, as our beloved Katy presses forward in an ever-changing commercial and residential world.