Where The Deer and the Buffalo Play

Howdy!

Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.  The prairie.  When we drive through the prairie in our modern day times, we see lots of farming, and, of course, very flat land.

The prairie is so much a part of the West, it’s hard to think of the Western without the prairie.  In Kansas and Missouri, the prairie had grasses sometimes so tall that a man on a horse would disappear into the grass.  Did you know that?  I think it was when I was first researching the West and the Prairie that I came across that info.

BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY was a 2018 release.  One of the reviewers of that book made a comment that the book was really about the Prairie and the feeling of being there on the prairie at that time when the story takes place.

Very intentionally I wrote about my fascination about the prairie, and it was wonderful to see that someone else appreciated it, too.

One of the sources of research that I like most is George Catlin, who in 1835, sailed up the Missouri on a steamboat in order to paint the Indians.  Here’s a quote from Catlin from around 1835 concerning the prairie seen on the Missouri,the Platte and the Arkansas Rivers.  He’s talking about a Prairie Fire here.

“But the burning plain has another aspect when the grass is seven or eight feet high and the flames are driven by the hurricanes that often sweep over the meadows of the Missouri, the Platte, and the Arkansas. This grass is so high that we were obliged to stand in our stirrups to look over its waving tops.”

Catlin, George. My Life Among the Indians (1909) (p. 199). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

In doing some research for the book, THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR, I traveled over the Prairie of Kansas and along the Arkansas River, where my story was to take place.  Sometimes, one can visit some of the off-the-beaten-track places, where they have preserved the prairie as it once was.  Many travelers at that time called it the sea of green — constant and flowing and seemingly never ending.

I soaked up the feeling of the prairie, trying to imagine what it would have been like at that time for the hero and heroine.  Loved reading about the Santa Fe Trail and all the adventures that the pioneers had along the way. 

This book, THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR, is about that prairie, as well, and about those that traveled on The Santa Fe Trail.

Here’s another quote from Catlin’s book:

“The high grass, being filled with wild-pea vines and other impediments, render it necessary to take the zigzag trails of the deer and buffalo.”

Catlin, George. My Life Among the Indians (1909) (pp. 199-200). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

In another book, my very first book, LAKOTA SURRENDER, I make mention of and have an entire scene wrapped around a prairie wild fire.  Again, the idea was sparked by a prairie wild fire that Catlin was in, and almost didn’t escape.

Here’s what he says:

“White man,” said he, “see that small cloud rising from the prairie. He rises. The hoofs of horses have waked him. The Fire Spirit is awake; this wind is from his nostrils, and his face is this way.” He said no more, but his swift horse darted under him, and he slid over the waving grass as it was bent before the wind. We were quickly on his trail. The extraordinary leaps of his wild horse occasionally raised his shoulders to view, then he sank again in the waving billows of grass. On the wind above our heads was an eagle. His neck was stretched for the towering bluff, and his thrilling screams told of the secret that was behind him. Our horses were swift and we struggled hard, but our hope was feeble, for the bluff was yet blue and nature nearly exhausted. The cool shadow advancing over the plain told that the sun was setting. Not daring to look back we strained every nerve. The roar of a distant cataract seemed gradually overtaking us. The wind increased, and the swift winged beetle and the heath hens drew their straight lines over our heads. The fleet bounding antelope passed us, and the still swifter, long legged hare, who leaves but a shadow as he flies. Here was no time for thought, but I recollect that the heavens were overcast, the distant thunder was heard, and the lightning reddening the scene, and the smell that came on the wind struck terror to my soul. The piercing yell of my savage guide at this moment came back on the wind, his robe was seen waving in the air, as his foaming horse leaped up the bluff.

Our breath and our sinews were just enough, in this last struggle for life, to carry us to the summit. We had risen from a sea of fire. Now looking back, still trembling from our peril, I saw beneath me a cloud of black smoke which extended from one extremity of this vast plain to the other, and seemed to roll over the surface of a bed of liquid fire. Above this mighty desolation the white smoke rose like magnificent cliffs to the skies. Then behind all this we saw the black and smoking desolation left by this storm of fire.”

Catlin, George. My Life Among the Indians (1909) (p. 202). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

What an amazing accounting.  Sometimes, I think when we pass through this country, it’s wonderful to remember how it once was.  And so, the tall grass prairie is something that I think is thrilling to add to a story.

What do you think?

I’ll be giving away one of these e-books to one of the bloggers here today.  She can have her pick as to which one.  Thanks so much for coming here today, and thanks for participating.  Be sure to leave a comment

 

Above here, are me and my brother-in-law in a short grass prairie in Montana.  And below here is my darling husband, also in a short grass prairie in Montana.

 

 

Karen Kay
KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
Please refer to http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules for all contest rules.
Updated: October 7, 2019 — 8:16 pm

20 Comments

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  1. wow I had no idea the grass got that tall – thanks for the information!

    1. Hi Teresa,

      I had no idea either, until I read about Catlin’s experience. Awesome adventure he tells.

  2. We don’t have prairie land around here, its all hills and such. Interesting post.

  3. Hi Quilt Lady,

    Yeah, we don’t have much prairie around where I live now, either. But I grew up in that area of the world and I remember it well.

  4. What an awesome example of how powerful and deadly nature can be. With all of our technological advances and increasing knowledge, there is still little we can do to influence nature and weather. Sometimes we only face it with skill, strength, courage and faith.

    1. Hi Karen,

      That is so wisely said. Thank you for your observation.

  5. Congrats! on finishing The Eagle & the Flame. I love stories where the heroine is disguised as a boy and a sharpshooter in the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show to boot— should be a wild ride! Thanks for this prairie info. I grew up in Eastern Montana and the wind across the prairie is something that is always with you. The smell of the sage is my favorite. It smells different in every season. Happy writing!

    1. Hi Janet,

      Your description of the prairie in Eastern Montana is so filled with feeling. I loved this comment, and thank you for the congrats. Means a lot.

    2. Can’t wait to read The a Eagle & the Flame!!! Always love reading your books!!! I have some wonderful news!!!! My Husband and I are going to be Grandparents!!!! Our first grandchild and we are so excited!!!! Our daughter and her fiancé surprised us Saturday with the news!!!! Have a wonderful day!!!!

      1. Hi Arlene,

        Wow! This is wonderful news. Wonderful. A whole new adventure. Many, many happy wishes go out to you and yours. And thanks for your compliment — means the world to me.

  6. Karen, that excerpt of George Catlin’s book is so gripping. I can’t imagine what that must’ve been like. What a sight. Although Amarillo has little vegetation beyond mesquites and grass, we’re not that flat. They call us the high plains. Lots of rocky hills and gullies. The only thing that thrives here are cattle and we have lots of those. Kansas is the true prairie. That land is like a tabletop.

  7. Hi Linda,

    Have been to Amarillo many times. When I lived in CA, I used to travel through Amarillo anytime I was east and on the road. Yes, Kansas is the true prairie — Montana, too. Short grass. But long stretches of prairie and always the mountains in the distance — just a different kind of prairie. Love your comment.

  8. I imagine research as being some of the best parts.

    1. Hi Debra,

      I agree with you about that. There are other parts that are fun, but the research is definitely one of the best parts of writing.

  9. I can’t imagine prairie grass that tall! How cool. I bet it was a whole different world back before we populated the states. Sights and things we don’t see much anymore!

    1. Hi Susan,

      Agreed. However, in Kansas, there are places that have preserved (or restored) the prairie to how it once was — I’ve been there. But at that time the grasses were only about 4 feet high. Would’ve been something to see.

  10. The pictures of the Prairie are beautiful. I’ve never been off the East Coast, but would love to see them someday. I can just imagine how they must have appeared during the earlier part of our country’s history.

  11. Hi Karen,

    When I first started writing and when there were bookstores on every corner, I toured alot. Toured for about 16 years. And so I went to alot of these places and I really feel blessed that I was able to do so. Am not so ambulant nowadays, but I still try to travel, at least a little.

  12. Karen, I couldn’t get here yesterday, but enjoyed the post today. Natural settings are such an important part of a story. They impact the characters in so many ways. Each has its own offerings in terms of shelter, food, water, weather, and dangers. Learning how to deal with these variations is necessary to survive and thrive. The native tribes were masters in the understanding of their environment. Settlers had a large learning curve. Without help or an ability to learn quickly, their success and survival was questionable.
    Your excerpt from Catlin’s book shows just how quickly things could change and how important it was to be aware of what was happening and would happen. Thanks for another interesting post.

    1. Hi Patricia,

      Thanks so much for posting. Always enjoy reading your posts. Yes, the setting is often another character, and I so love stories that draw one into the environment at the time.

      Wasn’t that excerpt from Catlin’s book something? Until I had read that, I really had no idea that grass could grow that high — or, like you said, that nature could turn thqat quickly.

      Thanks again.

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