But as usual, I digress. I did not intend to whine, especially after having two glorious week driving up the California coast and feasting in San Francisco. It was just such a sudden jerk back into reality.
But back to the topic of this blog. One of the real pleasures of this blog was to drive me back to my western library. I’m finding books I collected throughout the last thirty years. Most came from western museums. Some are histories, some are diaries, some are pamphlets. I am fascinated by all of them, and I lose so many hours of time reveling in them. I’m like a kid in my own toy store.
My latest find is a sixty-page soft-cover book titled “Women of the West,” by Rick Steber. It’s a collection of one page tales of women of the west. One of them is the story of Gladys Berkley who traveled to the Virginia Valley to teach school. “When she saw the lonely place that was to be her home, she cried.”
But the pay was a fortune: $125 a month, and she was determined to stick it out for a year.
Her duties were not limited to teaching twenty ranch children. She was also responsible for janitorial duties as well as helping the first and second graders saddle and bridle their horses. “I was a city girl. I had never saddled or bridled a horse in my life. I learned.”
She also had to start a fire daily and pump a bucket of water to be used by the students. The one room school was also the mail stop. Ranchers sent mail to school with their children, and the letters were placed on the widow ledge in the hall, and during the day, anyone riding past the school going to nearby towns would stop and pick up the mail.
But her first impression of the “lonely place” changed, and she married a local rancher while teaching generations of rancher’s sons and daughters.
Those few paragraphs have the power to fire the writer’s mind. What prompted her to set out on her own? Who did she marry, and how did the courtship go? Did they have children?
And before long a story begins to grow in my head.
People often ask where I get my ideas. They usually come from some tidbit in a newspaper or pamphlet or magazine. A seed of an idea that sometimes takes years to germinate, but lies there somewhere, tickling on occasion before making it known that its time has come.
So where do you get your ideas? Do youlet them ferment for years before bringing them to the page?