Palouse Country

Andrea L. Kassner By Andrea L. Kassner, 5th Apr 2016 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

The short story relating the journey of a young man who is returning home after years in college; to his home in the wheatlands of the Palouse country of southeastern Washington state.

Enter the Wind

After smothering my face in my fedora and time-worn corduroy jacket with my collar turned up during a time-honored Palouse sandstorm, I headed out from under a sagging willow tree with bare branches. My eyes stung from the sandblasting, and my throat and nose drained sandy fluids. My face, wind burned and raw, felt like I spent all day in the sandstorm instead of a few hours in the rolling hills of the Palouse.

Once the dust storm subsided, a common occurrence in the Palouse, I walked a familiar dusty road. The road is hard-packed from repeated scouring of glacial action throughout Palouse history. My history is all over this land, too; fence posts, wheat fields, rocky volcanic outcroppings . . . and the winds. I wondered as I walked, did the blasting winds erase the initials carved in my fencepost, or did it erase a sign of my childhood memory? The fencepost is irrelevant. The initials are mine. The initials, roughly carved, stand for nothing except a lonely boy’s desire to belong somewhere in the vastness.

The wind, the most powerful force in Palouse country, pushes me as I continue walking the wind blown road. In the Palouse, the wind blows 360 days out of a year, and seasons weld together according to whims of the wind.

I know the wind. It whispers in the rancher’s ear as the rancher listens. A primitive language between rancher and wind dresses the growing season; planting, harvesting, plowing, and lying fallow, forever dictated by the wind. The rancher knows innately that the winds dry the wheat, siphons deep wells of water, and brings sacred clouds to deliver the land’s precious rain.

Enter the Boy, Enter the Man

My family’s land, my land . . . ten thousand barb wired acres irrigated and life sustaining, are enclosed and captured by roads, acres of land that feed the hungry. Wheat, beef, and dairy land encroached on by folks who do not know the land, and cannot hear the words of the wind.

Now, as I walk toward the crossroad gazing north and south, I see the day, three years ago when I left the land. I could not wait to leave.

I traded my greasy overalls, flannel shirts, work boots and a straw hat for a corduroy jacket, wool slacks, and fedora. I wanted the scholarly look. I was heading east to college. My family celebrated proudly by marking the date on a calendar that pictured trees of orange, yellow, red and brown.

I traded my overalls for a hidden unfamiliar world outside the realms of anything I imagined. I dreamed of fitting into a society of books, exams, and professors. What I wanted were classrooms, literary conversation, and a niche. What I found was constricted competition for grades and athletics, without social acceptance.

Once surrounded by thousands of acres of land, now, I waded through thousands of unidentifiable faces, redundant questions, and false smiles. I played a roll of sorts. I wanted to find my niche. What I found was a crowd that looked for a score and whatever defined ‘fun’ for the day. Without rules, direction, or responsibility, those with the slickest hairdos and sassiest remarks accepted me as long as I played poker and lost, drank whiskey and vomited, and produced term papers with names besides my own.

Not understanding the manipulation and dishonesty, while compromising my integrity, I often found myself searching. Wandering up and down stairwells, through sunless halls I sought logic, precision and reason. Instead, I discovered classrooms filled with dull-eyed students. Students unwilling to release mediocrity stared stupefied at the faceless droning in front of an auditorium. I accepted the unconscious ones. I compromised with the devil to avoid loneliness.

Enter the Land

Now, after three years of compromising, I think to myself, “The prodigal returns.” Pride stripped and character dragging, I walk over every rock stone, and pothole. I know that I am bitter, and my beleaguered naiveté is waning. I nearly lost myself in a world where the man and the land are without measure. I lost myself for an ideal as magical, which exists in time only. Even so, after the magic is gone, there is the land and the wind.

Standing at a crossroads, losing myself to thought, again, I choose to exchange my scholar’s look for dirty grease-stained overalls. I thrive on the land sucking into my lungs its essences. The seasons, the land and the wind are inevitable and harmonious.

As I round a turn in the road, I feel a new part of me embracing a new part of the land. I see the seeds beginning to warm in the ground,
slender stalks pushing through the earth into the light, and a gentle wind strengthening all that grows on the land. I left the Palouse. I went east. From the East, I return to my land in the West. I am now always about the land.


Land, Palouse, Quest, Wind, Youth

Meet the author

author avatar Andrea L. Kassner
I was raised and educated in Spokane, Washington attending and graduating from Community Colleges of Spokane. My A.D. is Liberal Arts with English concentration.

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author avatar Lyndy
19th Apr 2016 (#)

I enjoyed this so much. Good job, hope to read more from you.

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author avatar Andrea L. Kassner
19th Apr 2016 (#)

Thank you. I appreciate your appreciation. Have fun writing.

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