Thursday, June 28, 2012

4th of July Freedom from the Mind Bog

 On October 19, 2011 I wrote about why I was bogging down in writing my Oregon Trail Novel, before that, on August 3 I gave you the prologue to my Oregon Trail, work in progress, and on Sept. 12 I shared the first chapter. 

Now I am delighted to report that I suddenly came unbogged.

I restarted the Monday after school got out.  Three days after my youngest son graduated from high school.  Every day I set my alarm and got up like I was still teaching, and started writing again on this story that I think I first began in 1998 or 1999.

Today I finished the second draft of the novel.  I am so pleased with it, and I hope that you will com to love it also.

 Subject:  The past and present meet on the Oregon trail when two girls travel the same trail with the same lap desk 152 years apart.  Sometimes they open the desk and find the other girl's things including a diary.

Rationale or takeaway point:  the fact that while modern conveniences have made daily travels and chores easier, people haven’t changed enough to lose the sense of hope and fear and the dream of a better life at the cost of the old security.  The blindness of prejudice can be overcome with trust and familiarity.
I have decided to share the 4th of July Chapter to celebrate.

CHAPTER 14 – Della

Dear Journal,
The wagon train has stopped for a time to rest the animals and allow for the hunting of fresh meat. Fresh meat! My mouth waters simply from writing the words. While we are stopped, there is less of the endless dust to breath, but even so, when I blow my nose – it covers my pocket rag with clay. I guess I should be glad I am not using the embroidered hankies with Mother’s careful tatting on the borders.
The mention of dirty hankies and the bloody fingerprints on this page should let you know which task the women are employed at during the lull in this endless trail.
We made camp beside enough clean water to do laundry, and the cold water rinse, the boiling water wash, and the lye soap have removed skin from our hands as they removed dirt and grease from our clothing and bedding. If lugging the water and armloads of cloth doesn’t put a permanent stoop in my back, hunching over the rocks to pound the clothing will. At last the prairie around the camp is white with cloth spread out to dry and bleach in the sun and for a moment I had time to write.
Now I must find Orville and . . . well, he comes at a run even now – shouting that the men are returning. Here we can see Independence Rock and tomorrow we shall celebrate the birthday of this nation. We shall celebrate even more if they have managed to bring us fresh meat, and there were a lot of buffalo nearby so the hope is strong.

Della tucked the desk into place in the wagon and hurried to join her brother. When she saw the men were indeed returning, and that eight groups of them were leading horses, dragging large buffalo quarters, she called to the women. They quickly assembled a group to help carve and share out the steaks and roasts and begin cooking a feast.
Along with the buffalo they had sagehen and antelope. There were bottles of pickles to be opened and shared out and the water could be flavored to make a “lemonade” using sugar, citric acid and a few precious drops of essence of lemon.
Today, they would also bake pies in their Dutch ovens with glowing coals both beneath and on the lids of those essential kettles. While the women worked at cooking, the men helped serve out the leftover bacon and cornbread from the morning meal to the hungry children, and in a burst of good spirits, they organized some races and contests of sharpshooting and axe throwing.
Mother insisted on helping, but stopped often to straighten and press a fist to her lower back when she thought no one was looking. Finally, the meal was cooking and the other women encouraged her to go sit in the shade and watch the games.

Nobody slept in the next morning, even though they would not be traveling. The ones who wanted to were planning on going to the giant, turtle shaped hill and climbing up to the top or reading the names of the many who had been there before them. They had waited until today so that when they carved their names in the sandstone, or painted them on in axle grease, they could proudly add the date July 4, 1850.
Being at Independence Rock on Independence Day made them all very much aware of their place in the history of the birth of a great nation. Della had prepared her students for the day by gathering scraps of red, white and blue cloth and helping them sew a flag, complete with 30 stars although when they left back East there was rumor that California would soon add the 31st star too the flag.
The children walked together and sang the songs that they had been working on; songs like “The Star Spangled Banner” which they sang loudly and badly, and “Yankee Doodle” which had them laughing and joyful, songs of America to stir the pride and blood of all of them as their little parade crossed the grassy flat lands and the enormous rock loomed ever larger. Their song paused and then resumed even louder as they realized it was being joined by other groups as overlanders converged upon the landmark for the holiday.
That evening they dressed in costumes and had a contest to see which children could recite the most from “The declaration of Independence.” They gave three cheers for America and danced until long after dark.


  1. Hi! Following you from Finding New Friends blog hop! Looking forward to reading more! Would appreciate the follow back! Have a good evening! -Kat

  2. Hi
    I am so glad that you got un-bogged. This is beautiful. Happy writing. You friend from India, Lubna

    1. Dear Lubna. So glad to see a note from you. You make me smile my friend.