Scenic Sundays 40: Lifelong Stories and Willa Cather

Posted on July 12, 2015 «
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One of my favorite authors is Willa Cather. I fell in love with O Pioneers! after seeing the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation. I rushed out to a used bookstore and bought a copy of the book which I still own and have read several times.

I know that lots of people are fans of My Antonia, but I like “Pioneers” more. Alexandra is a woman to be admired. She takes a non-traditional role in building her family farm as well as caring for her family. She makes the best of some horrible situations, and in the end, she is rewarded for her hard work.

I was lucky enough, when I planned our Great Midwestern Road Trip in 2012 to head to Red Cloud, Cather’s hometown. While most of the locations required cash to enter, the Willa Cather Prairie is free and just outside of town near the Kansas border. It seemed a fitting location to stop, rest and reflect on a novel that means so much to me.


Images taken in June 2012 near Red Cloud, Nebraska with a Canon Rebel T3i.
Images combined using Photoshop Elements.

“And now the old story has begun to write itself over there,” said Carl softly. “Isn’t it queer: there are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before; like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five notes for thousands of years.”

Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
willa cather quote

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18 responses to “Scenic Sundays 40: Lifelong Stories and Willa Cather

    • Yes, I did! I have very limited experience with Photoshop Elements. I layered two images together and added the quote. I loved the results so much that I actually put this image on the Debit Card.

  1. I haven’t heard of this author, but sounds really interesting and wonderful to visit the actual place. Might mark this book on Goodreads because I enjoy a story like this.

  2. I don’t think I’m familiar with this author, so I’ll have to check them out sometimes. That picture is amazing looking! Oh how I long for photoshop, lol. It’s sort of pricey though so I’m waiting. I did just get a nice little camera for my birthday though and I’ve been playing with it all week trying to figure it out.

    • I use Photoshop Elements 10, Michelle, which at the time, was much more affordable than the full-blown Photoshop. If you are getting into photography, I would recommend Lightroom over Photoshop. It’s great for editing photos. There are so many free programs now online like Canva for doing what I did above with Photoshop. But Lightroom is great for fine tuning an image without editing the original file. Gimp is a free version of Photoshop.

  3. I haven’t read O Pioneers, Terri, but I fell in love with Willa Cather when I read Death Comes for the Archbishop. It’s fabulous that you got to travel to Cather’s hometown. Thanks for sharing the photos. 🙂

    • I believe that’s the short story we read in 10th grade that was my introduction to Cather. Around that same time, Hallmark released their movie of O Pioneers! and the rest is history. 🙂 Jessica Lange plays Alexandra. David Strathairn plays Carl, her childhood sweetheard. And believe it or not a very young Reed Diamond (I know him from Dollhouse) plays Alexandra’s youngest brother, Emil.

    • I was an English major in college and adored Willa Cather. We read nothing in my required American Lit class by Cather. It was mostly dead white guys and Emily Dickinson. So when I needed another American Lit class to complete my major, I had to do an independent study because nothing was open when I needed it to be. My idea was to read books I should have read in high school and the prof put together a list for me. Once again it was a list of dead white guys. I added O Pioneers! to the list which the prof had never read. 🙂 I wonder to this day if he liked it.

      As I mentioned in another comment, if you don’t have time to read the book see if you can get your hands on the movie. It really is wonderfully done and it is one of my favorites. After all this talk about it, I may have to re-watch it again soon.

  4. tsm167

    Second Run Reviews | Scenic Sundays 40: Lifelong Stories and Willa CatherI also love Willa Cather. My dad was born and raised in Blue Hill, 18 miles north of Red Cloud. Ben to that area many many times. Enjoyed the pictures of a beautiful part of the world.

    • It was quite surprising how beautiful it was out there. We happened upon Chimney Rock during our drive. I hadn’t thought to add that to our itinerary, but we got off the freeway due to construction and followed a state highway that happened to lead right to it!

  5. Oh wow, this is lovely! I didn’t think the middle of the country COULD look so lovely- my pictures of it look like… grass. And that’s about it. Yours look so beautiful! And the quote is fabulous- so glad you were able to stop there since she is a favorite!

    • With all the grass, Shannon, I think the key is finding something like a bird or a fence to focus on is key. Without something to focus the eye on or some movement in the grass, the pictures can be a bit odd or flat.

      The best tip given to me was to move around the object, get down on your knees, lay on the ground, look up…get a new perspective and then take your shot.