July 1, 2012

In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs-Erin Pearson of Nebraska

I can smell summer. It wafts on the breezes over the Sandhills of my youth, from the land of my mother. It is accompanied by Glenn Miller played on a cabinet record player, crackling and popping into my memory the still classic tones of big band orchestras. It creaks and grinds with each frequent passing train, the whistle still blowing, echoing through the dead little town of Halsey NE. This is my childhood, the dissonant peace where I spent most of my days chopping thistles from the pastures with a sharpened spade, and picking green apples from the bucket of an antique tractor. I learned to ride here, dreaming of racing around barrels when I grew up on my trusty steed Flippina and my Justin leather boots. It is here that one can escape into a true Wild West.
Here, I met summer with a chilling push into the watering tank, swaying slightly to the chugging sound of an actual working windmill. I was surrounded by the smell of horses and fresh alfalfa, of molasses that coated the grain they devoured, of the grease that stained my cowboy boots and denim shorts. The house and ranch were my grandparents’, a mansion on the hill near the highway, and a small ranch house secluded from the single power line and any traffic.
It’s the land where Glenn Miller and his Orchestra melodies float over the thistles and breeze by the blowouts in the silent brush desert of my home. Where I learned to swim at Halsey National Forest, rooted within my family as strongly as any other family tradition of pecan pie and eating at the kid’s table. I can smell the wine after a prime rib dinner for Christmas yet, even though the home is now a lovely bed and breakfast.
We would complain, my cousins and I, that we couldn’t reach a radio station, and later that our cell phones wouldn’t catch a signal to save our lives. But looking back at it now, it was a blessing. We made our own games, faced our own fears and tamed the wild in the footsteps of dinosaurs. My grandmother insisted that once the Sandhills were under the ocean, and the reason for all of the dips and valleys that we explored was because of the dinosaurs stomping their feet. It made sense to my adolescent mind, though now I know better.
How creative she was to divert my mind into imagination, and away from the boredom from which I felt I suffered. She made the ample hills into new and fascinating possibilities, and I would fantasize about which kind of dinosaur’s footstep I was playing in. Long I stared at the yucca dotted hills wondering where I could dig for my first fossil to find; under the rolling alfalfa fields or near the cool fresh water springs of the river that ran through our land.
Tucked behind but still within the rumbling sands of the Burlington Northern Railroad, the white house stands enveloped in a white fenced yard. It’s like an oasis; pristine cut lush grass encased by drifting sands and brown sturdy bushes. Like a geode of time, the house sparkles if you dare to take a crack at visiting the Sandhills of Nebraska. This nameless little gem bed and breakfast offers a warp into a time and place where the minutes don’t count until you are yearning to get them back.
With a welcoming front stoop that curves around into the newly built porch, it is easy to leave the modern world behind, and simply see the world as it is. There are no complications here, just solitude and serenity, as you open the door and enter the home of my childhood. Even outside the house, summer seeps through each blade of grass and catches briefly in the squat forms of the cacti. The sand is kept back by a painted concrete block wall in the backyard, which I used to practice my balance beam routine as a child. Beyond is pure wilderness, touched only here and there by the barely necessary power lines.
Endless quiet, perpetual  relaxation.
If you are en route to Sturgis, or just need to get away, give in to the call and find yourself among the footsteps of dinosaurs. 
 Visit Erin’s blog here:  http://erinlpearson.tumblr.com/

Erin is a mother of twin 6 year old sons, is married and lives in Nebraska. Hailing from Western originally, she spends her time balancing career, PTO and family time. She has also dedicated time seeking representation/publication for her first novel "Seed of the Fallen: The Prodigal Angels", a faith filled fiction piece about the fallen angels in Ancient Rome. Between encouraging her passion for epic poetry and angelology, she is also an avid blogger, having started Hewn Tree Scribe in early 2012.
(Pictures provided by author, praireworksinc.com, forestcamping.com, nebraskatravels.com)


  1. Erin, congrats on your first novel. My husband has been going to Nebraska (from North Carolina) for close to 30 years to pheasant hunt. He and his two wing nut friends stay in friend's basements, the perfect set-up. Four years ago he took me on a road trip to visit wonderful folks in Fairbury and Beaver City. Then we headed on to Yellowstone and east to Mount Rushmore before driving back to St. Louis and down and back through Nashville. I enjoyed the trip so much that we're going back to WY for our 45th wedding anniversary, no doubt stopping for a visit in Nebraska. Another great post, Annette.

  2. You are a wonderful writer, Erin, your writing is poetry in prose. You painted a vivid picture of a place I've never seen. Have you thought about writing cowboy poetry? Congratulations on finishing your first book. If you get frustrated with your search for an agent, check out World Castle Publishing, I'm very happy with them. Good luck and follow the dinosaur road.

  3. Erin, You demonstrate your writerly skills in this essay on your state. Well done. Best of luck with your book.

  4. What a lovely post about Nebraska, Erin. I have lived Omaha but it wasn't much like the countryside where you grew up. The winters were harsh.
    I loved your imagry and I especially liked the story of your grandmother telling you that dinosaurs shaped the lay of the land. I would have been right there with you digging for fossils. What fun.
    I wish you every success with your first novel and for your future in writing.

  5. AnonymousJuly 01, 2012

    Great writing, Erin! I love hearing about life in the sand hills.

    We'd love to have you as a member of the Nebraska Writers Guild!

    Keep writing. You have a real talent!

  6. Tammy ChamberlinJuly 01, 2012

    I love you, Erin. Thank you for putting my childhood into words. I can't wait to say "I knew her when..." after you're published!

  7. Lovely writing. It took me right back with you to your childhood experiences. Congrats and good luck in publishing your first novel! Be sure to let us know when it comes out. I'd love to read it!

  8. What a beautiful post. I am so glad I had chance to read it. We do have dinosaur footprints in the area but no bones.
    Congrats on your first book!
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  9. This is a beautifully written piece that, with your vivid description, takes me there. If your book is written as beautifully, you're assured success.


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