What is the Lure of the West?
What draws us? Beyond smokin’ hot cowboys, that is. 🙂 Is it the setting? Is it the courage? Is it the tenacity and work ethic?
I never expected to write historicals even though I love history. Even though I drink history like a good-for-me protein shake… Even though I dragged my kids to the Genesee Country Village and Museum every single year… and sent them to a school that dragged them there a couple of times, too!
The lure of the west… a country, untamed. A people displaced for expansion.
An expansion that refused to be stopped. Two cultures, divided. One strong. One losing strength. Different ideologies. Different beliefs. One faction that believed in ownership. One who decried it.
There was sadness with the push west, sadness that wasn’t limited to Native American tribes. Pioneers lost families. They buried children. Many children. They buried young wives, lost in childbirth. And they lost homes to fires, fires that swept forest lands and dried, thick-grassed prairies, fires that destroyed the dried-out thatch of grass but spurred thick, green grazing grass for the following year.
It took courage to go west. Courage to put everything you thought you’d need into a covered wagon and WALK CROSS COUNTRY. Can you imagine that? To walk cross-country, through streams and over hills and through thick grass… How quickly those wagons left their marks in the ground, a trail formed by wagon after wagon, trekking west.
In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books we get a clear picture of the stop-and-go of westward expansion, a family that stopped here, stopped there, never giving up despite being removed from land, facing plagues of locusts, fire, hostile tribes, disease and accidents.
That bravery, that raw courage, built a nation. Then the railroad, on the heels of that expansion, opening up the vast countryside in every direction.
In a space of forty years, such a dot in a planetary timeline, the face of a country was changed, and continues to change to this day.
I loved Margaret Brownley’s post the other day about laboratory-produced beef…. Oh mylanta, the very thought of allowing ourselves to be completely dependent on anything or any industry for our food is ridiculous. Think of the repercussions that can make every teen dystopian novel come true… to put ourselves in the hands of government and/or big business and lose that self-sustaining impetus…. I’m going to just say: Not smart.
The more we know, the safer we are.
The more we do, the better we feel.
The more we grasp, the better we maintain.
And that was the lure of the West… to face nature and not only survive but thrive… to face hunger and make do… and be the benchmark for generations to come. To face want and learn to appreciate every little thing we have…
Remember Sally Field in Murphy’s Romance? How she tells her son to appreciate the rags, the bits of this and that… That you’ve got to “use it up, make it last, wear it out…”
A Western mentality, and when I’m in the West or Midwest, a lot of people, the heartland people, still practice all these little things.
They call the Heartland the “fly-over” states…. the way to get from coast to coast. Now there’s nothing wrong with the coasts, but the very different mindset of so many people living in big cities in the East and West… Their normal is their normal. They think of it as normal because it’s what they know.
But that Heartland…. the wide open prairies and the Big Montana Sky…. The plains of Texas and the mountains of Idaho (which is seeing a huge upswing in population!!! WHAT????) 🙂 The small farms and wide spreads of Washington and Oregon…
Before you get to the coast!
The lure is still there. It lives… and may it live a long time because I don’t want my beef raised in a lab, shaped like a Porterhouse…
I want it raised in the field… with a side trip to the grain lot!
Cooked over a wood fire…. Yep. There’s the lure.
SO THEN THERE’S THIS!!!!!!
So far two of my Double S Ranch books are being translated into POLISH!!!! They will be reading about my Washington cowboys in Poland! SWEET!!!! And right now, available nationwide, is this beautiful story…
“Her Secret Daughter”… You will love Josie Gallagher’s story… and you’ll fight for her every step of the way… a story ripped from the headlines before there were headlines…. You’ll find it at Walmart, Kroger, Winn Dixie, about anywhere mass market paperbacks are sold. And I hope you’ll love it! Coincidentally I have a copy to give away today…. Leave a comment and I’ll put your name into the cowboy hat!