For Patricia MacLachlan, it is always about the prairie. The author of Sarah, Plain and Tall and What You Know First has written so eloquently about why the prairie is important to her writing. Here is an excerpt from a MacLachlan’s Washington Post article from 2004:
I saved my mother’s landscape for her; the farm, the slough, the prairie sky that stretched out as far as she could see.
I saved the farm dogs forever, the ones my mother remembered with affection, Lottie and Nick.
I saved her family. I remember when we left the prairie to move east. My mother, in the front seat of the car, cried. I think we don’t forget the places where we began as children. I have been trying to write about where I was born for years. I have carried a small bag of prairie dirt with me wherever I go; to remind me of where I lived and won’t live again.
I think of these inspiring words today as I look out on the snow falling over Denver. It is cold, and will get colder tomorrow. Prairie dirt inspires some writers, the ocean inspires others, and snow inspires me. So many memories whenever the snow falls: hoping for snow days when I was a child, hoping for snow days still as a teacher, snowball fights in my front yard on Maple Drive held only after everyone in the neighborhood had time to build their forts, shoveling snow for our aging neighbor after her husband died one December.
Patricia keeps a bag of prairie dirt nearby when she writes. If I could , I would keep a jar of snow from my childhood. But since I can’t, looking out the window at the falling snow on this January day will suffice.