Friday, July 13, 2007

Pioneers

My shout out earlier today came as I was reflecting on blogging as a hobby. As I was thinking about the women whose writing I read. As I was even thinking about myself.

Our road trip to Wyoming had hubs and I playing tourists on the Western end of our state last week. We spent July 5th meandering that way, stopping at a few places along the way. Our first stop was at a "new" history museum that was built while we were finishing our undergrads in the same town. Kearney, Nebraska. It's a huge arch that was erected over the Interstate. It's the Gateway West. Neither of us had been inside, so we had to stop off and take a peek. What I loved about this trip was that this was not on our agenda, but when we drove under it and hubs suggested a stop, I wholeheartedly agreed. This type of unplanned visit simply cannot be done with kids. I felt young and unattached. A little like I was missing an extremity...or two.
The museum traces the history of Western settlement through the progression of transportation. How pioneers first used pull carts or wagons to travel west. Then came an increase in the use of stagecoaches. Followed by railroads. Then automobiles. And so on. It's a really cool museum, set right along the first trails that people used to go west. An amazing history, really.

One source for personal accounts of these journeys has been diaries. Hundreds of diaries were kept, many by the women who traveled in wagon trains. Their writing is beautiful and is such a spellbinding first account of the pain and suffering they endured on their trips. Some were quoted at this museum, still others are published and for sale at the visitor's center at Chimney Rock, which was our other stop that day.

"If I were to give in to inclination, I would cry all day every day and not know the reason." One quote on display at the Chimney Rock Visitor's Center. From a woman's diary. I don't remember the woman's name, but it sure seemed like something I would read in a blog post.

Of course, this got me thinking. Thinking of the women who traveled on these wagon trains. Pioneer women. We learned about how the women worked right along with the men all day as they traveled. Most women walked. They helped with the wagons, animals, and tried to keep everyone together. Then at night they set up camp, made supper, cleaned up, and cared for the children. Their days were long and arduous. And I complain about my 8, sometimes 9, hour work days.

Their diaries made me think of blogs. Hubs teased me a little, for he knew exactly what I was thinking as I read of the women's diaries. As I thumbed through the published copies of their personal accounts. "You're going to do a blog post about this, aren't you?" Why, yes I am.

Today, we are carving out another piece of history. A modern time when women are still keeping track. Telling of our days. The triumphs. The failures. The joy. The pain.

What will they think of us 150 years from now? Will my Gateway PC be in a museum somewhere? Will people marvel at how we parented? How did we manage without whatever technology they now could not live without?

We shouldn't feel guilty because we love to write. We shouldn't try to justify keeping a blog. Shouldn't have to explain it to anyone. Writing about experiences is something women have done for as long as they've been allowed to read and write. I imagine pioneer women thought about their diary entries as they walked their 18 mile days. As they tried to make a fire with green wood or buffalo crap. As they listened to the men play music and drink their booze.

~If he would just once put down that fiddle and come help me with dinner. I walked all day too, dammit. You'd think he walked on water because he knows how to drive oxen. If he thinks he's getting any tonight, he's got another thing coming. Ergh.~ [Okay, this, I totally made up, but you could see where this was surely in one of those diaries.]

Some day our own thoughts will be somewhere. I hope. I believe this hobby, this blogging, will some day tell others what we were like. What we did. What we survived.
We will all be a piece of that.

9 comments:

Joyful Days said...

This is such a lovely post!!

I always wanted to see that museum when we lived in Ogallala and traveled back to Iowa, but...with little children it was never a good time to stop.

Those diaries sound fascinating.

~Blessings~

nikkis30by30 said...

Definitely a wonderful, enlightning post. Thanks for sharing with us! I have always thought about stopping there, too, but as we have all made note, it's not something to enjoy with small kids in tow. Maybe in September when we go to Kearney.... KIDLESS!!!

Also liked your version of the diary entry.... sounds like something I would write! LOL!

Midwest Beach Girl said...

I love it. And being a NE girl, I love connecting the journey of those who traveled west with my own choices. (Hey, I used to pretend the "cow" trail through the pasture was indeed the Oregon Trail itself.) Keep blogging!

Omaha Mama said...

Go East Midwest Beach Girl...Go EAST!!! :-)

Michelle said...

what a great post! How wonderful that you guys were just able to stop on a whim like that and not have to worry about the kids! I wish we could have made more spontaneous stops on our road trip, but it was more of a "let's just get there as soon as we can" kind of trip!

Beck said...

What a beautiful post! I can't imagine having the energy to keep a diary if I was crossing the country in a covered wagon - that sounds TIRING.

Jenifer said...

That was such a nice post. You are right of course, documenting our lives is part of the fabric of being a woman it seems.

When my mother-in-law talks of making soap or cheese by hand...I try to stop my own pity party over how tired or stressed I am.

It is important though to record our lives because for one thing it matters to us. It matters to our family and to us, a lot.

Daddy Warbucks said...

Sounds like a good trip. Glad I was on it. All of it was great except for the bird crap on the bridge. I finally set up a blog account to counter your rantings about me, so people will get both sides of the story.

Mimi said...

Hey -- thanks for the shout-out.

I love this post, btw--betcha didn't know but I'm teaching a graduate course next year on 'genres of online life writing,' which is a fancy way of saying, I wanna draw the links between diaries and blogs. Because you're right, I think, to note that the impulse to write daily life is strong and important. Wheee!