Sunday 4 September 2011

All the years that have passed have not dimmed my memory of that first glorious autumn. The new country lay open before me: there were no fences in those days ... Sometimes I followed the sunflower-bordered roads. Fuchs told me that the sunflowers were introduced into that country by the Mormons ... the members of the first exploring party, crossing the plains to Utah, scattered sunflower seed as they went. The next summer, when the long trains of wagons came through with all the women and children, they had the sunflower trail to follow ... that legend has stuck in my mind, and sunflower-bordered roads always seem to me the roads to freedom.'
From My Ántonia by Willa Cather.

I've seen fields of sunflowers but never a sunflower trail. Doesn't it sound gorgeous? By one of those strange literary coincidences, this story - which I'd never come across before - cropped up twice in my reading this week. So I decided to share it.
Much as I love Willa Cather, I'd never read My Ántonia, which is probably the best-known of her novels. It goes without saying that it was wonderful ... she leaves you feeling almost homesick for places you have never seen.


Lucille said...

What a wonderful timely discovery. Straight to the top of my list.

Anonymous said...

I might just have to explore. Thank you Mary. A sunflower trail does sound rather wonderful, I must say.

Vintage Reading said...

Yes, I remember the sunflower trail struck me when I first read My Antonia, too. Marilynne Robinson's Gilead has some beautiful descriptions of prairie flowers, too.

mary said...

Nicola, I haven't braved any Marilynne Robinson since I read Housekeeping. Which was beautifully-written but not really for me. Maybe I should try again as so many people recommend Gilead.