The Willa Cather Women
Willa Cather was, in my mind, one of the great novelists of the 20th century, I have always loved her writing about life for people, especially women, on the Great Plains. I sometimes take photos of Maria working so hard on our farm, and while our life is so much easier than the people who built their homes and lives and farms on the Great Plains, it is physical and difficult sometimes.
I am healthy and deeply involved the chores and maintenance of our farm and animals, but I also turned 69 this year, and I cannot do all of the things I did when I first came to the country and bought a farm. My legs are not as strong or sure, even as my mind seems to grow stronger and surer.
Maria does a lot of hard work here, and sometimes, especially when I see her hauling manure or hay in the wind or moving rocks and dirt around, I think of Willa Cather and the amazing women she portrayed in her novels.
I think to myself, I have a Willa Cather woman here with me, and I am grateful for that. This morning, she grabbed some shovels and was hauling manure away from the barn and out into the pasture, the wind was blowing her hair, the Willa Cather women were always out in the barn, digging and hauling and running their farms.
Maria is an artist, not a pioneer, but she often walks the farm in her skirts and sweaters (often her wedding dress), often barefoot in the mud and cold,and she evokes this for me, and so do what I call the "Willa Cather" photos. She is unpretentious, with a great appetite for work. She is a strong woman, she is unfazed by hard or dirty work.