Great State: A Beautiful Accident

Great State
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EL RENO, OKLAHOMA -- They live too far down the country road to worry that neighbors will complain about barking dogs. Ronnie Hall has been raising coon hounds for more than 20 years. He likes them noisy, especially when they have a raccoon trapped in a tree. "That's what you want," he says. "You want to be able to hear them. They're hounds."

Every dog has a different personality. Some are more memorable than others, which brings us to a dog Ronnie used to have named Tiger. Hall recalls, "He was really a good dog, and aggressive dog."

Tiger had a plentiful supply of courage but a shortage of good sense. He had a problem with porcupines. Once a year Ronnie could depend on old Tiger to find one and then try to eat it. "He never learned?" asks a visitor. "He never learned and he wasn't going to learn," replies Hall.

Of the thousands of quills that Ronnie had to pull out of Tiger a few found their way to Ronnie's wife Kathy. She orders them by mail now but those first ones she washed up. Then she looked at them carefully. 'You know what' she thought. 'Those quills might actually make for some pretty earrings'. "I think I worked on one for about a week before I finally got the first one together," she says.

Kathy is half Chickasaw. She learned a long time ago how to do bead work, how to wrap tomahawks in buckskin, and even how to make a tree lamp. She took those old porcupine quills, cut off the points, and her idea worked.

Those quills really did make for nice looking jewelry. She holds up a just finished pair. "Didn't that turn out really pretty?" she asks."That something that looked so gross could turn into something beautiful."

Find the beauty in everything. That's the lesson the Halls took from their own experience with porcupine quills. Tiger might not have learned anything at all, but Kathy hangs the lessons she learned on every ear that will listen.

She sells her earrings at the Cherokee Trading Post on Interstate 40 west of El Reno. As for Tiger, he met an unfortunate end on a bear hunt a few years ago. He wouldn't back down from that fight either.

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