Longing for the Prairies

Chinese Wall, Snelling, CA

Longing for the Prairies

Except for the birds, it was very quiet in the prairies. There were no bothersome distractions. The key to the climate was “sound”. There were gentle breezes, gusty, dusty winds blowing through the sedges and grasslands sending tumbleweeds rolling about, or gales set to destroy communities and crops. Generally, every breath we took brought us clean, fresh air, whether hot or cold. It only took a glance at the sky to know what to expect, as the clouds gathered or dissolved against a tell-tale sky-blue background.

When I was growing up, I longed for more green grass and trees. Sometimes I felt lonely as I looked far away into the horizon with its gentle hills and ancient seas growing taller in the background. There was a dark haze showing off the magnificent Sierra mountains. I longed for brooks and rivers of running water, or lakes,and the first time I saw the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco, it was so unruly and beautiful, I thought I might faint.

Sometimes, out there in the unrelenting summer sunshine, the temperature would rise to 110 degrees or more. On those days, my father insisted that we all lay down on the print linoleum floor of the living room to cool off and take a nap. Mother would eventually get up, prepare a simple evening meal, and then, after the dishes were washed and put away, we would sit on the front porch and watch the sun slip away into the night horizon, flamboyant colors slowly disappearing. It was a gentle life, and when I grew older and settled in the crowded city, I wanted to be there once again. I longed for the tranquility and freedom of the prairies.

Viola Odell



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