The Lost Land

little-house-on-the-prairie-meir-ezrachiI can’t speak for you, but Jess touched a chord (several, actually) with me yesterday, both here. and with her post on AATW. She, like me, grew up in the country, and I suspect both of us feel somewhat out-of-place in town, even the quite small towns we live in. There exists in both of us a longing for the country, I think, away from the ‘Nosy Parkers’ of town life. But even more than that, I think we long for a simpler, better time when we had the time to listen to nature, and yes, to God. Her quote of Houseman is directly on point, for me.

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

There’s a deep sadness in knowing we can never go there again, and I suspect it is compounded by the knowledge that those whom we knew so well, and formed us, are no longer there. The old saying that “you can never step twice in the same river” applies forcefully here. And the simple honest folks we grew up around, are passing quickly from the scene, and with them the world they built for us, leaving us alone to face the clamorous, dissonant world of today.

For me, I have that same sense of ‘hiraeth’ (yes, it’s a Welsh word, there is no English equivalent, really) not for Wales, specifically, lovely as it looks in pictures, but for the wide open spaces, for me the high plains of Wyoming tend to hold my thoughts. In many ways, they are not as beautiful as Jess’ Wales, but they have an austere beauty of their own. They also offer a powerful sense of independence. There is just something about knowing that your nearest neighbor is twenty or so miles away.

In A Lost Lady, Willa Cather wrote this:

He had seen the end of an era, the sunset of the pioneer. He had come upon it when already its glory was nearly spent. So in the buffalo times a traveller used to come upon the embers of a hunter’s fire on the prairies, after the hunter was up and gone; the coals would be trampled out, but the ground was warm, and the flattened grass where he had slept and where his pony had grazed, told the story.
This was the very end of the road-making West; the men who had put plains and mountains under the iron harness were old; some were poor, and even the successful ones were hunting for rest and a brief reprieve from death. It was already gone, that age; nothing could ever bring it back. The taste and smell and song of it, the visions those men had seen in the air and followed, — these he had caught in a kind of afterglow in their own faces, — and this would always be his.

In many ways, that seems to sum up how we are feeling about our country today.

Jess linked to an article called Dreaming in Welsh, I’m repeating that link because I think it provides a middle ground between Jess’ hiraeth and my longing as well as can be. Do read it, if you haven’t.

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About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

16 Responses to The Lost Land

  1. JessicaHof says:

    Thank you for this, dearest friend – and it is odd where hiraeth can lead you sometimes 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Indeed it can be, thanks so much for yours, which inspired it! 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I grew somewhat near the Dublin Mountains, and of course in Ireland…in the 1950’s, it was almost heaven on earth! And I am now mostly just a man of memories, and the best were from my Scots-Irish family, who were almost a transcendental people in themselves, with both a combination of mystery & logic for me! But with the monotheism of Judaism, and the Christ-Messiah Jesus! I had a wealthy Jewish friend in my youth who also made an impact on me, a friend closer than a brother. He has passed this life, RIP! What providence I have seen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • *grew-up. Man I am losing ground today! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • NEO says:

        i know the feeling, all too well! 🙂

        Like

  3. Grandpa Zeke says:

    Willa Cather, one of my very favorite authors for evoking hiraeth (a word I never heard before, I was certain it must contain a typo!). I solve my own sense of longing for my homeland by delving into genealogy and family history, so I wonder, Neo, have you tried to trace your family tree? It is a most satisfying (and time consuming) hobby. All I knew when I began is that my grandparents lived in Missouri. Now I know we spring from English “non-conformist” immigrants to Virginia in the early 1700’s. I have traced their pioneering descendants through Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, etc. There really is no end to it, but worth the effort as it weaves a powerful story for generations to come.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      i haven’t, but a couple of my aunt’s have. My dad’s family back to the 14th century west of Oslo, and Mom’s to the 16th century around Trondheim. Nothing spectacular, mostly farmers and hunters!

      I’m a huge fan of Cather as well, she gets the prairie better than anyone I’ve read. But then, she grew up about 70 miles from here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        I do have a bit of genealogy stuff my parents researched before internet. They went to courthouses and wherever else in those days.
        All got washed away in the Hurricane Katrina. Every bit of my moms stuff. A cousin had a copy of my dad’s side and sent it to me. Concise and not going back very far.
        I think we are of English decent, both Cooper’s and Varnell’s, according to Fr. Robert a while back, although Mom said we were kin to Chief Pontiac and Henry Hudson. And although my Hudson connection spelled his name Hutson.
        Like another blog friend says…we all have some melanin or we wouldn’t tan in the Florida sun, some of us have lots of Cremora to boot. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Grandpa Zeke says:

          Sorry to hear about the Katrina disaster washing away your mother’s research. It is easier to find information online these days, maybe she can start again sometime. BTW, there are Hudson’s in my family as well. I soon discovered that most folks with that surname believe they are related to Henry Hudson. I also have Jefferson and Wright ancestors, so of course I was told we “must” be related to Thomas Jefferson and the Wright Brothers! Unfortunately I’ve been able to prove that neither is true…oh well, makes for good dinner time conversation. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

        • the unit says:

          For sure. And dad traded his ’39 Ford for a ’47 Pontiac. But then later traded for ’52 Desoto then a ’54 Oldsmobile. Man, what kin I got. Then went with Chevy the rest of his life. All before GM, Government Motors. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          And Grandpa Zeke, no Mom would have been 103 last October 3rd. Deceased now 10 years. Maybe I can resume the search. I do remember a few names that might help me.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Grandpa Zeke says:

    Unit, forgive me, that was a careless comment on my part. (I always assume others on blogs are twenty-somethings.) My grandmother left notes with names and dates, it was clear to me that family history was important to her and so I carried on with what she had passed on to me. It was a way to honor her memory. With the few names you have, you are right, that will help you if you decide to do a little research.

    Liked by 2 people

    • the unit says:

      No problem there Grandpa Zeke, mom had a full and rewarding life into her nineties and her mom to right at 99. I’ve gone by the comment name ‘the unit’ since 2011. I heard a radio program where a call in told of a medical meeting where the speaker called those seventy and older “units.” I was just shy of that by a few months, but decided to use it as my name to comment in various places. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Grandpa Zeke says:

        I’ll admit this made me chuckle. Kind of a scary thought that our MD’s think of us as units! I guess we units better stick together. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

        • the unit says:

          Yeah, became a real “unit” few months later in ’12. And yeah enough millimeters stick together, we’ll be a meter. I’m measuring up candidates right now. I guess some folks in I.A. got to have them measured up by next week, then N.H., then S.C. And I read FL is next. So I gotta decide pretty soon. And vote I will, will be in that number, Lord willing when that day comes. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

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