In Reflecting a Prairie Town Drake Hokanson takes a prolonged look at a common place in an uncommon fashion. He presents Peterson, Iowa, through a singular combination of words and images, a remarkable synthesis of history, geography, direct observation, climatology, botany, oral history, archaeology, agricultural science, literature, geology, photography, and even a bit of astronomy. This vernacular landscape study is lavishly illustrated with photographs taken by the author, including stunning panoramic views.
The fundamental truth of experience on this continent has always lain in the challenges and opportunities of space. Place mattered because we were so few before the immensity of the land. But place at the same time rooted us in that immensity. Even now our appreciation for place is not quite dead; locked in our urban environments we continue to crave a “view,” be it of mountains, forests, or prairies. These “views” crop up unexpectedly as photographic murals in office buildings or posters in dentists' offices. It is to this stifled sense of the importance of place that Hokanson speaks; he invites us to remember and to be revitalized.
The magic of Reflecting a Prairie Town is the revelation that Peterson, Iowa, is a small town that is also uncannily large. In capturing the essence of this one place Hokanson helps us to understand our own worlds better—he asks the simple questions many of us would like to ask were we given the opportunity. To enter this book is to come back to a place we have never really seen before.