|Photo credit: Lyn Fenwick|
| Larned and Great Bend|
Each program I prepare is different, with emphasis shown to the various topics included in Prairie Bachelor, The Story of a Kansas Homesteader. One of those attending her third program said, "I learn something new at each one." On November 18th I am giving another program with a new power point and fresh topics. The image at the top of this blog is included in the Great Bend Library program to be held at 6 p.m. November 18th.
Speaking in Great Bend gives me the opportunity to share from the book a story about Isaac's trip with a neighbor. The young man going to Great Bend to catch the train was entrusting Isaac with getting his team of 3 horses and his wagon back to the young man's homestead claim in Stafford County.
I am looking forward to a whole new program to share, with a new power point to accompany the information. I am grateful for the generosity of so many people who have helped me share the story of Kansas in the late 1800s, and our state's importance to the most successful 3rd party movement in our nation's history. It makes the decade I spent researching and writing Prairie Bachelor worth it. My belief in the importance of sharing this story has been rewarded by comments from so many readers, both those who checked out Prairie Bachelor at a local library and those who bought the book.
Many have shared stories about their own ancestors who participated in the Populist Movement, or at least lived in that era. Some have shared images that appear in the book. One was pleased to discover the quote from Walt Whitman, her favorite poet, whose poem I used to introduce the story of a forgotten man.
A Kansas City reporter in the 1920s wrote: "Even historians don't understand Kansas. I wonder sometimes if anybody except God understands Kansas and sometimes I think Kansas has even him fooled." Quote from Craig Miner's Kansas. That is why I wrote Prairie Bachelor for general readers rather than writing an academic text. Kansas has an amazing history, and I wanted to share one important era that has become nearly forgotten except by academics. It is my great pleasure to hear from those who fell in love with Isaac, or who learned more about the lives their ancestors lived, or who discover our State's significant past. I look forward to sharing with those at the Library, Isaac's trip to Great Bend almost a decade and a half ago, and I also look forward to the continued sharing of Kansas history with those who read the book and those who attend the programs!
In 1991 the Architectural Record published a list of the one hundred most important buildings of the twentieth century. Twelve of those buildings were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. There is little dispute about the exceptional quality of Wright's work. Feelings about his character vary.
|Photo Credit: Larry Fenwick|
|Photo credit: Lyn Fenwick|
Every year as autumn arrives I watch for the migration of the Monarch butterflies heading south to their winter homes in Mexico. Although I was working in the yard this year a few days during that time, I only saw 3 butterflies. After growing concern about the rapidly reducing numbers of Monarchs, in 2020 the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service finally acknowledged the peril, but they only declared the Monarch "a candidate" for endangered status, acknowledging that the Monarch meets the listing criteria under the Endangered Species Act, but that they needed to "focus resources on our higher priority listing actions."
Like our honey bees, these essential insects pose a dilemma for farmers. Pollinators account for billions of dollars in crop production values, but some of the plants necessary to the insects are weeds farmers want to get rid of. Since the mid-1990s Eastern monarchs native to Kansas had declined in 25 years by about 80%. For the Western Monarch it was worse, at 99% in 40 years. No wonder I am not seeing the same numbers of Monarch butterflies I once saw. My photograph of Monarchs on marigolds takes on a new meaning. I associated it with Dia de Los Muertos--the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead.
Although the name might not seem appropriate for a day of celebration, it is in fact a happy celebration to honor loved ones who have died. Rather than mourning their deaths, alters, called "ofrendas" are constructed and offerings are made to those loved ones. Photographs, candles, food, and other objects with special meaning to the deceased are placed on the alters. Family and friends may visit, and parades and parties may be part of the celebration. The Ofrendas are decorated on October 31 and on November 2 public celebrations are held, which may include elaborate costumes. The migration of the Monarchs that occurs at this time is often associated with the Dia de Los Muertos celebrations.
In addition, so are Marigolds! The Aztec believed that flowers help guide lost souls, and the alters or ofrendas are often decorated with flowers to help guide the souls of their loved ones to see what they have done for them. Marigolds, with their bright colors and pungent odor, as well as their continued abundance in early fall are often used.
The Day of the Dead for 2021 was celebrated this past weekend, and perhaps the Monarchs I photographed in Macksville several days ago made it to Mexico for the celebrations. Our own Memorial Day remembrances in my community are different, but they are also alike in many ways. That weekend we also decorate the graves of loved ones with flowers, and many families use the occasion to tell their children about their relatives. In some towns, bands march and flags are flown. Some families still gather for lunches, and conversations turn to updates of family weddings and births and memories of loved ones. It is also a time for fun. Swimming pools open and families go to the lake or the beach. Our traditions may seem different in the details, but upon reflection they share many similarities--particularly in remembering those we have loved and lost.