Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Commonplace Book: The Prairie

"[The effects of glaciation] make much of the landscape look rather rough, unfinished, with an odd, rather helter-skelter arrangement, but, remember, ice many feet thick and weighing billions of tons per square mile is not the best kind of a tool with which to construct artistic-looking scenery on an otherwise fairly level terrain." —Edward W. Schmidt, The Geological Features of the Northfield Area (1938)

"The record of the plow was insignificant, like the feeble scratches on stone left by prehistoric races, so indeterminate that they may, after all, be only the markings of glaciers, and not a record of human strivings." —Willa Cather, O Pioneers! (1913)

"As to the impression made by a western town on a man fresh from the east,...I can sum up everything in one adjective, 'unfinished.'" —Rev. Paul de Schweinitz, address to the Northfield Improvement Association (1887)

"There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made." —Willa Cather, My √Āntonia (1918)

"But the great fact was the land itself, which seemed to overwhelm the little beginnings of human society that struggled in its solemn wastes." —Willa Cather, O Pioneers!

"Prairie Creek, about six miles from here, is a gem of a prairie. To give you a little idea of the rapidity with which the country is filling up—this prairie of Prairie Creek was all unclaimed last Monday morning, and in three days 3,000 acres were taken. One man can have only 160 acres... The country about there is splendid, the soil almost fabulously rich, and the whole beauties must be seen to be appreciated." —David Humphrey (1855)

"As the prairies spread out before us in their living green, dotted with the wild rose and other flowers, was it any wonder that the heart of the traveler from the barren hills of the East or the wilds of Canada should leap for joy within him, and that he should feel that this is indeed a goodly land?" —Hiram Scriver, address to the Old Settlers' Association (1876). Scriver arrived in Northfield in June 1856.

"It seemed the most lonely place in the world." Mrs. Edmund Kimball (1914). Mrs. Kimball settled in Hasson, Minnesota, in 1855.


Jim H. said...

Dear Mrs. Kimball:

Sometimes, it still does.

fabrile heart said...

I am beguiled by the prospect of owning a piece of land and I think that 160 acres more than sufficient for my purposes, though I dare say I am little too late... ;)

New Poem: "Phrasebook"

My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .