I remember all the comments in Malone of people marveling at the beauty, and I remember thinking, Okay… it just looks… normal. That’s how I feel about Pepin too. It just looks normal. Pretty, sure, but normal. But De Smet… those prairies! Absolutely awe-inspiring! I could never live there, but do I ever drink in the views while I’m there. Having lived in the mountains my entire life, I had never before seen anything to match the splendor of that flat open prairie before my first Little House trip.
I therefore find it interesting that you, who being in Kansas I assume see prairie-like land all the time, marvel at the beauty of places like Pepin and Malone that look much more like the kind of places I see every day. I guess it’s all beautiful, it’s just what’s new and different that provokes such inspiration.
Then DakotaGirl added:
I stand in awe at both De Smet and Pepin because neither are like my home state.
Both comments got me thinking. More than a little bit of my awe over the beauty of Pepin and Malone is rooted in my Bouchie-like disdain for the empty and perpetually windy plains. I’m never far from longing for the trees and slight breezes of the state I’m from. I do prefer the South Dakota landscape over my own, with its abundance of hills and even a natural body of water or two. But basically, yes, Malone and Pepin call to me because it’s what I miss. I was projecting. I’m glad it was pointed out to me.
Then I took it a step further in my head. Laura, after living in the rocky Ozark hills for over thirty years, incorporated the landscape of the land she grew up on so much into her autobiographical work it was almost its own character. Was Laura missing her homeland too? How much of her sentence choice was rooted in her longing? Was the beauty of those treeless hills and open sky looming perpetually in her mind, forever out of her reach, even as she made her home in the mountains? And was the Little House series in aggregate as much a tribute to that land as Little House in the Big Woods was to Pa’s stories?
It’s something I’ll continue to think about.
Although I love the looks of Pepin, it’s not the landscape that makes me think I’d be able to make my home there. It’s the people. More on that in my next post.