Vandemark's Folly eBook

John Herbert Quick
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 378 pages of information about Vandemark's Folly.

I shall never forget the sight.  It was like a great green sea.  The old growth had been burned the fall before, and the spring grass scarcely concealed the brown sod on the uplands; but all the swales were coated thick with an emerald growth full-bite high, and in the deeper, wetter hollows grew cowslips, already showing their glossy, golden flowers.  The hillsides were thick with the woolly possblummies[5] in their furry spring coats protecting them against the frost and chill, showing purple-violet on the outside of a cup filled with golden stamens, the first fruits of the prairie flowers; on the warmer southern slopes a few of the splendid bird’s-foot violets of the prairie were showing the azure color which would soon make some of the hillsides as blue as the sky; and standing higher than the peering grass rose the rough-leafed stalks of green which would soon show us the yellow puccoons and sweet-williams and scarlet lilies and shooting stars, and later the yellow rosin-weeds, Indian dye-flower and goldenrod.  The keen northwest wind swept before it a flock of white clouds; and under the clouds went their shadows, walking over the lovely hills like dark ships over an emerald sea.

[5] “Paas-bloeme” one suspects is the Rondout Valley origin of this term applied to a flower, possibly seen by the author on this occasion for the first time—­the American pasque-flower, the Iowa prairie type of which is Anemone patens:  the knightliest little flower of the Iowa uplands.—­G.v.d.M.

The wild-fowl were clamoring north for the summer’s campaign of nesting.  Everywhere the sky was harrowed by the wedged wild geese, their voices as sweet as organ tones; and ducks quacked, whistled and whirred overhead, a true rain of birds beating up against the wind.  Over every slew, on all sides, thousands of ducks of many kinds, and several sorts of geese hovered, settled, or burst up in eruptions of birds, their back-feathers shining like bronze as they turned so as to reflect the sunlight to my eyes; while so far up that they looked like specks, away above the wind it seemed, so quietly did they circle and sail, floated huge flocks of cranes—­the sand-hill cranes in their slaty-gray, and the whooping cranes, white as snow with black heads and feet, each bird with a ten-foot spread of wing, piping their wild cries which fell down to me as if from another world.

It was sublime!  Bird, flower, grass, cloud, wind, and the immense expanse of sunny prairie, swelling up into undulations like a woman’s breasts turgid with milk for a hungry race.  I forgot myself and my position in the world, my loneliness, my strange passenger, the problems of my life; my heart swelled, and my throat filled.  I sat looking at it, with the tears trickling from my eyes, the uplift of my soul more than I could bear.  It was not the thought of my mother that brought the tears to my eyes, but my happiness in finding the newest, strangest, most delightful, sternest, most wonderful thing in the world—­the Iowa prairie—­that made me think of my mother.  If I only could have found her alive!  If I only could have had her with me!  And as I thought of this I realized that the woman of the ferry had climbed over the back of the spring-seat and was sitting beside me.

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Vandemark's Folly from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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