Celebrating Willa Cather With an Excerpt for Gardeners from My Antonia

"I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins..."


December 7, 1873  

Today is the birthday of the American writer Willa Cather. Remembered for her novels of frontier life like O Pioneers! and My Ántonia, Willa won a Pulitzer for her World War I novel One of Ours.


Here’s an excerpt that will delight gardeners' ears from Willa’s My Antonia.

In the story, the narrator is Antonia’s friend, Jim Burden.

In this excerpt, Jim is lying on the ground in his grandmother’s garden as the warm sun shines down on him:


The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers.

Queer little red bugs came out and moved in slow squadrons around me.

Their backs were polished vermilion, with black spots.

I kept as still as I could.

Nothing happened.

I did not expect anything to happen.

I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more.

I was entirely happy.

Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge.

At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great.

When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.

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Willa Cather
Willa Cather

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