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An Old Friend, A Hidden Herd, and A Donkey in Oklahoma

One of my dearest friends is a teacher. She teaches 7th grade science during the school year. What I didn’t know until recently is that she also teaches science during the summer. She teaches at a summer camp for low-income kids in Oklahoma. I had no idea she was sharing her knowledge with summer campers until she invited me for a visit.

It was a great evening, but I had a little hiccup at the beginning. I got lost on my way to the camp. It gets tricky where the Kansas and Oklahoma state lines meet each other. Throw Missouri in the mix, and I was running circles in three states. I couldn’t find the sign for the road where my printed map told me to turn, the buffalo herd I was supposed to use as a landmark from my friend’s directions was hiding, and my car’s navigation took me to a casino.

The third time I turned around at the gentlemen’s club in the general area where I thought I should have found my turnoff, I pulled over and called my friend. She told me to go to the convenience store at the roundabout and she’d meet me there. I had to circle the roundabout twice because a truck cut me off from my exit. I was a bit frazzled by that point.

My friend found me and led me to the camp. Once we turned on that pesky road that I couldn’t find, she pointed out the window to several buffalo hiding in the tall grass of a pasture. I couldn’t have seen them from the highway even if I had looked right at them, but it worked out better with me following her, anyway. I was able to enjoy the beautiful Oklahoma landscape instead of trying to find my next turn.

Her science building is next to one of the camp’s stables. This particular stable houses the camp’s retired horses and a donkey named Otis. She has befriended the donkey and invited me to meet him. Since she is one of my beta readers, she knew I wrote a story featuring four donkeys who decided to have an adventure. I had told her about all of the research that I conducted about donkeys for my story. She thought I might like to meet one in person. She was right.

She knows me pretty well. We’ve been friends since 3rd grade. She proved her friendship shortly after meeting me. I was extremely ill that year. I had strep-throat, pneumonia, and rubella.  I couldn’t go to school or have any visitors while I so sick.  I missed quite a bit of school that year.

My 3rd grade classmates all signed a card for me because I had all of those illnesses on my 9th birthday. My sweet friend signed the card like the rest of the kids, but she felt that wasn’t good enough. She knew my mom wouldn’t let her see me, but she walked the ten blocks to my house anyway. She handed my mom her favorite stuffed animal, which was a little dog with one eye. She told Mom that she wanted me to have it because it would make me feel better. That’s the kind of friend she has always been.

I am blessed to have her in my life along with the many other amazing individuals I count as friends.

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