I have just returned from Nebraska, and Nebraska always makes me think of Willa Cather. For many years I have saved...in a way that I see it each day...a quote of hers from "My Antonia":
I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun or air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.
and there I was, on the drive from Lincoln to Seward, looking out at her landscape, so different from New England's which is also beautiful, but more compressed and uneven.
I was there for the annual Plum Creek Literary Festival, for which 4000 Nebraska schoolchildren are bussed in to meet and hear authors. It is an amazing feat of organization and coordination on the part of the sponsors, faculty members at Concordia University in Seward.
Here is a very spooky photo (you have to hum "Twilight Zone" music while looking at it) of the passageway between two terminals at the Detroit Airport. This is in blue light but the lights shift and change, so it would have been green shortly thereafter, then yellow, then......whatever:
One of the best parts of such events, for me, is being with other authors, meeting some new ones, seeing some I see rarely. This time it was Mo Willems, Hans Wilhelm, Cynthia DeFelice, Joan Bauer, and Gale Gibbons. Here I am (below) with Hans (he just emailed me this photo)...
But this trip, a real highlight was the final dinner, where I was the speaker..(but no, that speech was hardly the highlight)...it was meeting poet Ted Kooser---whom I had just mentioned in a recent post--- who was there at the dinner. I have been such a fan of his for many years but had forgotten that he lived in Nebraska and certainly didn't know he would be at this dinner!
And here is a poem by Ted Kooser, which is related, I think, in complex ways, to the quotation from Willa Cather:
| ||Today, from a distance, I saw you|
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer's retina
as he stood on the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell.