there are no photos of the wild meadow.
this is a landscape from mabel's album.



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wild meadow
by margaret anderson

"wild meadow" could well be the title for the pioneer history of a swedish immigrant family on the prairies. when my grandfather first came to iowa, he broke many acres of the prairie sod. some he kept for pasture and hayland, but gradually other crops became more important, leaving only 20 acres of prairie hayland. this"wild meadow" is cut each september and its abundant hay crop stored for the horses' winter feed.

just the word meadow brings memories rushing back. of the six children in our family, i am the most like my father, and ever since i can remember we have taken our annual trip to the meadow to pick flowers. each june we gathered mammoth bouquets of sweet william, black-eyed susans, sweet peas and other nameless "flowers". these nameless ones were probably weeds, but if they were pretty in out bouquet, flowers they were. we weren't too particular. we wandered across the meadow, being led on by the brighter blossoms always in the distance: before we realized it, the bouquets had grown almost too large to handle. the tough stems of these flowers had to be snapped sharply before they'd break, in contrast to the delicate, short life of the blossoms. for only a day or two did these sweet williams retain their rich beauty and enchanting odor.

earlier in the spring and later in the summer there were other flowers, though not so profusely as in the magic month of june. in this month only did the meadow acquire its rippling patchwork of pink and white sections on the light green background of real prairie grass - long, fine and as slippery as ice and good especially for horses.

"wild meadow" and "down east" are the names we gave this historic tract of land, for it was east of the farm and over and down the hill upon which our house stands. on the banks of the dredged ditch and scattered around the border of the meadow grow clumps of cottonwood, willow and wild plum trees. delicious plum jelly each summer and pussy willows each spring are harvested from the prolific meadow along with the bouquets and the hay crop.

but a farmer must be practical, and even a romanticist like my father realizes that he could profit more by cultivated land than by tradition and history. so this year, there was talk of turning the wild meadow over to the greedy plow. by losing this one touch with the pioneer iowa, my father and i will have only memories remaining. i didn't always enjoy our long tramps through the meadow, but i realize now how much they meant to him. by teaching me to love the meadow, he was teaching me to appreciate and understand the two generations of a family which had grown up there. this meadow is one living reminder of his own life with his brothers and sisters, and hard-working pioneer parents. for me the meadow has great significance not any for historical reasons, but for the vital sense of belonging to a place with its dear memories.

someday there will be no " wild meadow". my father has refused to plow that 20 acres for many years and i hope he remains stubborn. for, like the buffalo i the far west, the iowa prairie should be preserved for future pleasures: the new generation also must know what it's like to gather the great bouquets of sweet william.

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