Thursday, July 26, 2007

There's No Place Like Home!

I may have been raised in Ohio and educated in Florida, but I'm a western plains girl at heart. Get me out under the big sky, and I feel free and inspired. Set me down in the tiny town of Palco, KS, and I feel at home. Just call me a sunflower!

Last night driving on a twisty, windy, narrow Ohio hills road was so frustratingly slow -- and dangerous -- after the straight open roads of the plains. Also I kept driving in and out of rain, but I couldn't see the storm's approach like I could out in the west.

My mom and I traveled the last 8 days in the Great Plains state of Kansas, stopping in Lindsborg, Newton, Hays, Palco, and Bogue. We saw lots and lots of family -- even a few we didn't expect to run into. It was great!

Every time I drive west across the Mississippi, I think about what the settlers in wagon trains must have been thinking as they painstakingly took the trip to a new home. I wonder how they decided on a place to set down their roots and how they managed to weather through those first rough years.

I guess it is easy to see why I do enjoy a well researched story set during the age of westward expansion.

I took plenty of pictures that inspired me with story ideas like old homesteads where a lot of living once occurred. But this old photo I discovered at the family reunion really inspired me. This man, raised in a sod house, was married in the early 1800s. His wife died in childbirth. He went on to remarry and have 5 more children and survive the Dust Bowl with his farm intact, but his first son was raised by the grandparents.

Do you have a place you visit that inspires you with multiple story ideas? I hope yours is less than 1000 miles from home.


The Write Life said...

Mine is exactly 1000 miles away! I love our home in Florida. We live on an island, and our house is a block from the beach. But after over seven years here, I'm really missing my home state of Missouri. I'm working on talking my husband into bouncing back and forth between the Ozark Mountains and here. My mind is bursting with story ideas from all the history up there.

I'm glad you all had a safe and enjoyable trip!


Erica Vetsch said...

Your picture of the open prairie made me miss home. I'm a Salina girl. When we drive on I-70 west through the Flint Hills and out onto the prairie, my husband always says I sigh with contentment. There really is no place like home.

Kristy Dykes said...

Great, great post, Becky. Right up my alley. I love all things historical. My Heartsong novel The Tender Heart was inspired by a visit to the Manatee Park Historical Village in Bradenton, Florida. As I looked at the old settler's house--called a "cracker gothic cottage"--I "saw" a young woman in a tattered dress on the porch. That young woman became Sebbie, my heroine.

As to your statement of how the settlers endured, I like thinking about that, too. I'm currently re-reading Young Pioneers by Rose Wilder Lane, daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Originally titled Let the Hurricane Roar, it's a novel-based-on-fact chronicling Laura and Almonzo's first years together as settlers. What horrible things they endured! I guess the key word is that they DID endure.

Thanks for your post.

Mary Connealy said...

I don't know about a place I visit that inspires me.
But your comment about the ancestor losing his wife in childbirth is something I draw on. That happened so much in the days before antibiotics and other medical intervention. Children were lost too, so often.
My mom is the product of a second marriage, the first wife died in childbirth. I drew on some of that for Petticoat Ranch.
My father's father was the oldest of nine children, one husband two wives.
My MIL had her second child around 1945 and she ran a fever after the birth. They gave her a shot of penicillin. She was one of the first to ever get it. She said if that had happened with her first child she'd have died. She called it Child Bed Fever and said it killed new mothers all the time.
An infection was fatal.
So when we write historical novels filled with widowers and widows and orphans, there's just a LOT of truth in it.
This is the first time in history that people expect to die when it's there turn.

Rhonda said...

Nice to have you back, Becky. I live in New Mexico and drive to Oklahoma at least 2 time a year (16 hours) sometimes 3. Along the way, I see all kinds of scenery that draw stories to mind. Something that never fails to caught my attention is the old windmills. My grandmother had a big one in her back yard that we played around. She'd come out and we'd pull up water from the well that sit right between the legs of that old windmill. In my mind's eye I can see the women of her youth as I recall stories that she told me of how things were as a girl for her. Writing about such things is like touching a part of my grandmother's life that would not have been possible for me any other way. Thanks for bringing up this topic. It's interesting to see what the other commmenters have to say about the subject, too.