No one knew there had been a fifth witch. Blame Lyman Baum, if you like, or just chalk it up to the fact that “Witch of the Midwest” sounds neither scary nor reassuring.
Seriously, it conjures the image of someone coaxing casserole after casserole out of an oven that couldn’t produce enough heat to roast a child. (Not that she would roast a child, mind you, but she’s heard there was a witch in this world who was famous for such things. )
It makes you think of an old woman in homespun hobble skirts and a ridiculous hat, and okay, her face isn’t green or covered in warts, and her tits still retain their youthful perkiness (she’s not a DAY over three hundred, after all). But no one’s going to accept that her cheery “Ya, sure, you betcha,” holds as much power as a charmed kiss, or believe that when she wields her wooden spoon and tells you to “Scoot away now, pesky child,” it has as much malice as a shaking broom “… and your little dog, too!”
Still, travel via cyclone is hardly reliable, and the one thing you learn as a witch – even the fifth, forgotten witch – is, “Ya gotta bloom where you’re planted, don’tcha know.”
And so she does.
But not in Kansas, because, really? Kansas? Grasshoppers and wheat fields are just NOT her thing. Instead, she settles in Minnesota, where she’s attracted to places called Blue Earth and Faribault. She finds love with a tall wizard named Paul who has a pet ox – odd choice for a familiar.
“That’s different,” she said, upon first meeting the creature. (Babe isn’t really blue, of course, he has the same coloring as a blue heeler, all silver-grey and kind of mystical.)
“You’re different,” Paul countered.
Well, that wasn’t far from the truth.
So, when he’d had his fill with adventuring, they settled down and started the first organic farm on the American prairie, with a first-year yield that was positively magical.
And if, during the summer when they ran their farm stand out on the Interstate, she had this tendency to loom behind buyers and demand, “So, whatcha doin’?” no one objected.
Because she might have traded her pointy black hat for a straw model with a wide brim, but they Knew – especially the children – that she was something other.
A witch is still a witch, after all. And she’s not in Oz anymore.