Monday, January 23, 2006

madness



Pioneer women literally stood at the edge of the great prairies, digging in with foot and attitude, refusing to venture another step, fearing they would disappear into the vast sea of grass. The visual itself is frightening - not a tree or building, nothing to anchor yourself. The huge forests of the east stood behind them, family and friends now a world away. The adventure suddenly didn't seem such a good idea.

Others fended off madness locked inside the walls of tiny sod houses, closing in as the winter stretched from November to April, winds howling like demons, no amusements or books to brighten the mind and pass the time.

A small china teapot might be all she possessed that would raise her status, if only in her mind, to that of "civilized."

The cruel reality was that starvation, disease, injury and death was just a breath away.

7 comments:

Marty52 said...

The fortitude of the women (and men) who crossed the prairies has never ceased to amaze me. I have lived in Colorado, Wyoming and now Arizona and over the years I have driven across the plains, thinking of those women and how they felt when faced with that vast emptiness. They were truly brave people!

KatKit13 said...

I've been reading a series of novels about quilters. One of the books had an elderly woman tracing her history to find all the quilts her mother made at the turn of the century. It's made me think about the pioneer life lately, and what legacies women were able to leave behind, without much besides some scrap fabric and a needle.

Stamina. Strength. Fortitude.

pablo said...

Did you read Giants in the Earth? The main woman character in that novel goes insane, partly due to her inability to cope with the vastness of the Minnesota prairie (also some religious mania as I recall).

Zanne said...

No, I've read some other accounts written by pioneer women. But that one will be on my list of things to read. Thanks Pablo.

Zanne said...
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Floridacracker said...

I would think the constant workload just to survive would keep you so busy and exhausted that you would not have time for madness. Very impressive, oppressive photo Zanne.

Lynne said...

wow...

Just amazing to think of how people lived not all that long ago.

Thanks for the reminder that I have so much to be grateful for!