Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sioux County History--II

The prairie grass was tall, very tall, as far as the eye could see back then, an immense, shaggy hide over the slowly rising hills of Sioux County, Iowa.  So tall and so wide and so thick was the tall grass that it was a hazard for those white folks who determined to settle the county.  The only way to be sure you knew where you were going, should you want to be neighborly, was to dig trenches between sod houses.  

So they did.  And thus, like the deer and the muskrats, those pioneers out here went visiting.

Two young ladies determined to visit some old friends four or five miles away one day, so they followed the furrows until they brought them to another homestead, where the wife was just then making pancakes, the stove outside the sod house.  Happy to have visitors, the wife begged the girls to stay for a plateful, which they did.

After stirring up the batter, she turned around to take care of something else.  The moment she did, the dog, Caleb, a big, black lab, started snorting up the mix--and loving it.  Once she saw--and heard--what was going on, that neighborly farm wife pulled the mixing spoon out of the batter and chased Caleb away, whapping him with it until he ran off howling.  Then, she simply plopped that spoon back in the mix where it had come from, gave the batter a few more powerful turns, and let well enough alone.

Now the young ladies, who, in Holland, were from a bit higher class than the gracious pancake-maker, noted all of this behavior sourly, as can be imagined.  But when, eventually, the good wife served up those pancakes, bedecked with sugar, it never really dawned on the girls to refuse them, even though they took not a bite without seeing that long red tongue flopping the from the snout of that big black dog.  

And thus their traveling interlude ended, and the two young travelers soon departed along the furrow, the highway, their stomachs filled but queasy, having learned a lesson in neighborliness and the American way of life. 

"Well, Caleb," they might have said, "we're not in Holland anymore." 

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