Making sense

Anne Lamott, on writing ...

"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

Monday, July 14, 2008

Prairie Nirvana?

I'm still in Nebraska -- and lovin' every minute of it. The verdant countryside is a spectacle to behold. From my sister-in-law's office window (an enormous, beautiful oval), this is what I see: first, a row of "Fat Boy" pine trees -- a wind break to guard the west side of the house; behind, a gravel drive, heading north, to a house my brother and sister-in-law built; beyond the gravel is a farmer's field, manicured, sculptured, almost, in its purposeful rows. The corn is getting high, thanks to early summer rains. I stood yesterday among the stalks, thinking back to that Shirley Jackson line from "The Lottery": "rain in June, corn be heavy soon." West of the corn is a farmer's house and outbuildings, all painted white. Several silver silos stand sentinel north of his house. The shorter silos are partially occluded by tall trees. Folks 'round here MUST plant trees: prairie winds are furious at times. It is nearly always windy in Nebraska. Good if you're a wind-loving person. Most annoying if you're a careful hairdo sort of gal. Prone to allergies? Do not live here.
One of my strongest memories of living on the prairie happened during a blizzard. Husband had already gone to work; school was canceled, and so the children were with me, young and energized by the possibility of erecting enormous snowmen. No playful romping on this day, however, as the snow was so heavy and the wind so strong that it was impossible to see where the land divided from the sky. You know that phrase, "blinding snowstorm"? Well, there is such a thing. No hyperbole. I learned this myself when I went to retrieve our trashcans (massive containers made of hard plastic). After much bundling of heavy scarves/hats/mittens, the oldest daughter and I ventured out the garage door. Should have tied a rope to our waists, anchoring it to something heavy, like, I don't know, the house! Truly, I felt like Ma Ingalls out on the prairie, fighting to save the family's only calf. It was exhausting just trying to get to the trashcans. At times, I couldn't see my daughter; I worried that she'd been swept away. I yelled for her but the wind yelled louder. Amazingly, we arrived at our destination simultaneously, but once we reached the cans we were unable to pull them up the long gravel drive. Knowing we'd been beaten, we returned to the house, our mission an unsuccessful one.
Since that time, I have never been in such a weather fix.
Today, looking out at a cloudless baby blue sky, it is comical to remember The Day We Went Into the Blizzard and Survived.

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