“As I looked about me I felt that the grass was the country, as the water is the sea. The red of the grass made all the great prairie the colour of wine-stains, or of certain seaweeds when they are first washed up. And there was so much motion in it; the whole country seemed, somehow, to be running.”—My Ántonia, Willa Cather
It is often called “Catherland”—Webster County, Nebraska, where the quintessential American novelist Willa Cather spent her childhood and found inspiration for her stories of European immigrants on the prairie. Richard Schilling, with his watercolor paintings and ink sketches, conducts us to that land, to scenes that might have influenced Cather, but as they appear today. Schilling’s images take us to Red Cloud, Cather’s childhood home; to the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie, a botanical jewel of mixed-grass prairie restored to its pre-1900 condition; and on to “the divide,” the high prairie land between the Little Blue River to the north and the Republican River to the south. Each evocative original watercolor is paired with an excerpt from Cather’s work and with the author’s own musings on the history, geography, and ecology of the landscape.