Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tumbleweeds Began to Roll, Late 19th Century

From my writing journals:
Research for my Victorian era story led me to the former badlands around Nevada one year. With enough history for even the most jaded buff, I fell in love with its ghost towns and lineage from the Gold Rush.

I wasn’t jaded, yet, and couldn’t stop exploring. Nevada had a rich Victorian heritage, after all, intertwined with Wild West Lore. Whether wheedling my way into mayoral archives or librarians' secret stashes, I learned early on that there were more treasures hidden away in Nevada during the Victorian era than miner’s golden nuggets.

At last, I had to leave my Victorian research for more urgent matters. But, on the way out of one of the hilly regions, while admiring the view, a lone tumbleweed blew into my car. With nowhere to turn off of the narrow road, the colliding tumbleweed destroyed a tire and did some other damage, too. It took two days to find someone who could repair my car so I could leave the state.

I mused on that random tumbleweed for those two days. The years of the Victorian era are often synonymous with the era of the old-time Western. The tumbleweed has so often been merely the backdrop in Westerns set in the desert. Flashbacks from Spaghetti Westerns jumbled through my mind. In truth, the tumbleweed didn’t arrive in the West as we know it until around the late Victorian era, perhaps around 1870ish. Its seeds entered the West by piggybacking amidst the grains of some Russian immigrants.

I vowed, then, to watch closer for tumbleweeds, in real and in novelistic scenery...

1 comment:

Susan Macatee said...

Wow! I've never been out west, but my husband has a sister who lives in Arizona.

If we ever go to visit, I'll be sure to be on the lookout for tumbleweeds.