On a nearly 900-mile round-trip weekend getaway to witness the sandhill crane migration along the Platte River corridor, a trip to nearby Red Cloud and home of Willa Cather—a turn-of-the-last-century pioneer of the West and its literature —was a must.

At the Willa Cather Foundation bookstore, an astoundingly complete collection of Cather’s works are available for perusal and purchase, as are works by other local writers and artists. For my personal collection, I chose The Song of the Lark (1915), considered to be the second novel in her Prairie series, published between O Pioneers (1913) and My Antonia (1918).

That I was, technically, on a birding trip and the Western Meadowlark is the state bird of Nebraska, a book titled The Song of the Lark struck me as a particularly fitting choice, not to mention my admiration for Cather’s strong female characters who demonstrate incredible grit and tenacity in a land and time that didn’t offer much in the way of tenderness or sympathy. And though the differences between Cather’s world and ours are seemingly vast, you can be sure to catch a glimpse of the past when visiting Red Cloud and paging through the collections of its bookstore.

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