Prairie Spirit

Today we have an all new idea from Steve of Out On The Prairie. This is an introduction to the stories Steve writes based on his family history, back when when people lived a life closer to nature, homesteading on the prairie in SE Nebraska. Many seem to think everyone comes to America through Ellis Island, but these people came through Baltimore. Taking the train to Chicago, they secured wagons for the rest of the trip. Read on for an excellent sample of the stories Steve tells on his blog.



Prairie Spirit

Gazing ahead the father could not see the top of the other wagons. They had stopped a bit longer than the rest, marveling at the immense ocean of flowers and grasses. It was similar to when he sat on the beach of Baltimore, waves lapping at their feet, wondering if he would ever return. Now he had found a new ocean, a new frontier, where very few had yet traveled. Maybe they would sight a cooking fire at dusk, as they stood high up in the wagon, hoping to see any movement through the thick undergrowth. He knew if they headed due west, they would come to a river, and a major town, where the rest of the group they were to meet would be.

Traveling was very hazardous in these vast prairie regions, and it was not unusual to only travel five to eight miles some days, just routing around the swollen streams. One wrong step and you could be knee deep in some rather foul smelling muck in the fen they were setting in. The ground was like a mattress and box springs, springing back up with each step. Up on the hillside sat enormous boulders, scarred from their glacial decent tens of thousands years before, a playground for the children to play that night. The soil these glaciers brought and formed was black gold, and attracted thousands each year. It was almost like the “Song of the Sirens”, beckoning a variety of hardy souls, and then dashing their hopes out with the rugged fight for survival. Little did this family expect that with rain and overcast, they traveled in a circle, unable to determine direction. Their last fifteen miles took two days, only through the luck of finding an Indian hunting party, where they laughingly were pointed in the right direction, less than a mile away.

Those who stayed found a new way to survive, and with the new John Deere plow, they were able to plow the strong sods and redirect the vast network of watershed into new pathways. The area changed dramatically, with the loss of habitat, food was produced to feed millions. This vast prairie went from seventy-eight percent in the late 1880's to less than one percent today. The woodlands have survived, with similar percentages, but a lacking of diversity in the species. With that lacking of diversity, so went the populations of wildlife. Now to even get a chance to see vast prairie areas we must look at areas replanted, hundreds of years away from were they were when they were disturbed, This is not an overnight development, and we don’t consider this when we change our world, however tiny it may be. Mother Nature has been doing this for years with mixed results. We do not need to impede her artwork, but learn to survive nurturing it like a new baby, for everyday is a new day for our planet.

Sitting by the campfire at night that first year, drinking coffee made from roasted wheat, there was a big a storm that put the families together for days, making a barn into a giant dormitory. Friendships were kindled and rekindled with the various stories each had to share, and the dreariness of the storm passed quickly within two days. Corn talk and fishing stories, kept a large group up all night the first night, eager to hear the stories true or untrue.

Life was good and bad, happy and sad, you can make it what you need, in the simplest of ways, and continue to be happy. It was the good life in this ocean of prairie, much better thought these new families, and they prospered together well. And the waves of grasses enveloped the land, only to a lesser extent with the advent of row crops and better plows. It was still a sharing world, living at one with nature as best as one could.

It was an upward struggle, with a few downfalls. Many had come and gone around them. One neighbor left in the middle of the night, possibly disgraced at a failure to thrive in this ocean of prairie. They had thrived and built up their farms, where it offered them a comfortable lifestyle, and ample savings. Take heed of all around you and you reap in the benefits of love. The grasses still formed a series of lakes, waving their eternal wave. Gone was much of the prairie ocean, progress sent her to her grave.

This expansion offered new commerce to the area, and the railroad was headed their way in all four, maybe even five directions. Steamers rich in cargo plied the ever changing rivers, finding new ventures up and down the banks of these mighty rivers that transverse the prairie. The Pony Express was short lived with an array of valiant riders. The old with the new, all melds and fuses, resembling the past, and the future. There is always a positive account even for the negative, for it is a learned experience. Mix the old with the new, and what do you have, but the land of the free.

Our lives do go through a lot of growth and changes, but is it different from a century ago? We work and build new technologies to make our lives easier, but do we feel any different? Do we find the same love and passion as our forefathers? If we were to step back in time, could we raise our families with a different method, or has it been really that much different? Sometimes the difference is blurred with the complexities we add to our lives, when we are such simple folk.

What do we need more in our lives and world, but happiness. It is how we feel we need to attain it sometimes that stops us from realizing how simple it really is. We carry it in our hearts all the time, it is just taking the time to realize it’s there. It shouldn’t be hard to find, but a goal you set for yourself to uphold.

Go, stand in the middle of a prairie, and listen for that song. If you listen intent enough it will come to you before long. It is easy to find peace and happiness in a prairie, so set your soul free. Feel the moment one more time, happily. Close your eyes and hold out your hands.  Give praises to who gave us this land and the happiness it always carries, on a gentle prairie breeze.

The End


If you'd like to read more stories like this one, follow this link to find Steve's blog about his life and others who lived on the prairie. Leave him a nice comment to let him know you were there.
Go take a look: Out On The Prairie

Comments

  1. Great story, Steve. Hope to hear more from you.

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  2. I really enjoyed your history. I'm from the northeastern part of Nebraska, so I can relate to a lot of the beauty of the plains. I certainly wish that you will have more.

    Emma

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  3. Thanks for the great input!Keep watching my blog and I certainly will be back with Nature Center with photos and stories shared.Emma NE is coming up in my blog,I was born in your area.Todays blog take me into the Badlands.

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  4. For some reason when you click on my blog it doesn't take you there so try:
    http://crazymountainman.blogspot.com

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  5. @Out On The Prairie
    Thanks for pointing it out. I looked at the links, and made an adjustment. It should work fine now.

    ReplyDelete

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