Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Vermeer on the Prairie

Today I'd like to share a portrait with you.


I call this one, "Vermeer on the Prairie" because of the beautiful light coming in through the window.

This woman is someone I admire and respect. She's worked hard during her lifetime and she's one of those people who will assure you that the good old days weren't all that good. Think about how your day would play out if you had no central heat in your house the mop water would freeze before you could finish your job.

This woman represents the nurturing spirit. It doesn't really matter who she is, her identity is not important but the qualities she embodies are all important. Her power doesn't come from who she manages. It comes from what she manages.

You're looking at true grit, my Vermeer on the Prairie.

NOTE: If you're interested in reading about women with true grit I suggest:

Giants in the Earth by Ole Edvart Rolvagg. This book was written in Norwegian and translated to English. It chronicles the experience of early Norwegian immigrants living on the prairie. It is part of a trilogy.

This Cruel War - the Civil War Letters of Grant and Malinda Taylor - This is an amazing and almost complete set of letters written between husband and wife during the civil war. Grant spent five years away from his family and Malinda changed in ways that her husband was not completely comfortable with. This is one of the most interesting books I've ever read. It's an accurate first-person account of living life in the late 1800's.


belladella said...

Your post today sort of relates well to mine or at least where my mind is...in Minnesota. My husband's father's side of the family is Norwegian (thus the last name Voxland) which makes your first suggested reading especially appealing to me. When I was out there last summer I did a lot of reading about their family history. Those folks came here with nothing and made so much! True grit!


lifeinredshoes said...

Good morning Suzanne, it's so good to be back. Women like the one you mention today are a dying breed, aren't they? I guess I find that kind of sad, we have it pretty cushy. I haven't read the books that you posted, but when I watch a Ken Burns special, history just comes alive.His Civil War series is a favorite of mine, so real. How is The Other Mother? I haven't seen much of her lately.

BittersweetPunkin said...

Hi Suzanne...loved this post. I used to love listening to the stories my great grandmother told me of how life was when she was growing up...a lot different than life as we know it now.

Kelly said...

Suzanne, this post! I followed one of the links and it made me think of my Swedish ancestors in New England and so I did a quick search and found a book on the Swedes from my city of birth! My great grandparents and their parents!


and I've been itching for research material for a story or novel about my heritage.

thank you! serendipity!

Ann said...

How beautiful. So perfect.
(The song "Pearls" by Sade was playing while I read this post. What a beautiful moment I just had here!)

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Oh, how I love this photo...it represents so many women I know. They are always the unsung heroes...and yet they are usually the glue that holds us together.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

I keep going back to look at the photo...you really have captured something very special with this one.

The books you suggest are intriguing to me. I'd love to read both of them.

Alaura said...

Good Afternoon Suzanne; I can't put in to words how much I loved your post. The photo was so powerful. I agree with all of what the other ladies said. The Lord new that when he created women, that we would have a very important part in history
pioneer women were the glue that held families together, their unfailing strength and love. I am really interested in the last book,I will have to find it and read it.
Thanks for sharing

Rechelle ~Walnuthaven Cottage~ said...

I can remember stories my mother told me of when she was growing up and the hardships she faced. While I always say I long for a simpler time, the truth is I don't know if I could survive without my washer/dryer and appliances. We've got it pretty easy compared to so many who came before us. I am interested in the civil war book and I think I will look that one up.

Rue said...

Hi Suzanne :)

My aunt told me that the so called good ol' days were not as wonderful as they portray in movies. She's 70 and I remember when the movie Grease came out and I was going on and on about how much fun it was back then. She took one look at me and said, "That is a movie and it is not real" very sternly. That has stayed with me all these years.

The cars were pretty cool though ;)


Karen said...

Great post !!! Wonderful, evocative photo..

I love talking to elderly people. hearing their stories make me so grateful for what I have and how easy my life is, compared to theirs.

I think though, in some ways, they were the lucky ones. Not a lot came easy to them, so what they had, they really appreciated. I think that many of them also had a stronger survivor spirit, than many have today.

Cindy La Ferle said...

What a lovely portrait. There's something about this beautiful woman that reminded me of Tasha Tudor, the illustrator/artist, another nurturer. Again, your photos are wonderful.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Still debating whether $5.60 is a good price for a download. I hate being tethered to the PC for my reading. ;>

GemStateMom said...

I love Vermeer...and this photo does have a very Vermeer-esque feel to it. Well done. A very thoughtful post.

Suzanne said...

Kim - Yes the hardy Norwegians and Swedes populated this area and set up farms. They did indeed leave behind their families and came with nothing. It's amazing.

Red Shoes - These pioneer women are in short supply these days. There is a wonderful woman out in Montana who was originally from Brooklyn who is running the large farm and ranch after her husband passed away. I think she's amazing also. She can be found here:

Robin - My grandmother told me such stories. They had no electricity or running water. The lived deep in the cool of the hollow, next to a stream. In her lifetime she went from living a primitive life to seeing a man walk on the moon.

Kelly - You are so welcome. I'm glad you found some information. I think we all reach a point in life when we want to know about our roots. I'm a little concerned that my children haven't gotten there yet.

Anne - I love Sade's music. She sings alot about her African experiences.

Cowgirl - They ARE in fact the glue that hold families and cultures together. Anthropologists know this and anyone who is looking to stabilize a country knows that the women are the most important cog in that wheel.

Vee - This woman is so unusual, so interesting and so beautiful. She's a wonderful character and a great part of our community.

Alaura - I cannot add one word that would surpass what you have written about women.

Rechelle - I found the book on a shelf at the Goodwill store and was so excited. I love history and especially first-person accounts because they give you a real insight into the workings of life at that point in time.

Rue - I think your aunt was right. It wasn't all fun in the 50's. There were few opportunities for women to do anything outside their homes.

Karen - I TOTALLY agree that these women held precious things that we discard without a thought. There was no easy access to things like fabric, for example. In the book "This Cruel War", the husband and wife spent an incredibly long period of time discussing and deciding how a small length of fabric would be put to use. They would faint if they walking into a modern fabric store.

Cindy - Good observation. This woman does remind me of Tasha. She dresses differently but in a very distinctive way. She is tall but very slight, almost frail. But you would never actually think "frail" because she seems to be made of the strongest steel.

Vee - Omigopsh I could never read a book on a PC. I think that you would be able to purchase through the used book portal. Sometimes they're less than 25 cents and the $3.99 postage.

Paula = I just loved the light from the open window illuminating her at work.

Thanks everyone for reading and participating. I appreciate your companionship!

- Suzanne

Suzanne said...

OH - Red Shoes - I forgot. The Other Mother is up to her normal stuff. Outside in the heat for 8 or more hours a day. She won't be deterred....can you spell S-T-U-B-B-O-R-N?

- Suzanne

sugarcreekfarm said...

I second your recommendation for Giants in the Earth. Loved that story! I just felt so for the wife.

Louise said...

I love this picture and your words to go with it.