From the Poppers, the Princeton economists who have dubbed the short grass prairie the Buffalo Commons, to the latest book by Jonathan Raban, Bad Land, those who have no real ties to this unending sea of grass often fail to see its strength or its subtlety.
Kathleen Norris in Dakota: A Spiritual Geography has lived on this land long enough to be able to see what tourists can't:
Dakota is a painful reminder of human limits, just as cities and shopping malls are attempts to deny them. (p. 2)Norris sees the landscape fostering realism rather than despair (p. 110).
Always the Land is the story of a man who was born, raised, and lived his entire life on a small piece of Norris's Dakota country, from the perspective or someone who did not live on that same land but for a few short years as a child. It's a story of four generations and their relationship to a homestead.
While Raban and others talk of austere lifestyles, I talk of richness in a land which only reveals its treasures to those who can see subtlety. While Raban and others talk of economic ruin, I talk of triump over adversity. While Raban and others might see tragedy here, I see tremendous accomplishment in a life lead honorably and well, although such things don't seem to matter much any more.
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Summary of Book
Buffalo Bones and Hauling Bundles
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