Born in 1867, Feb. 7th would have been Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 146th birthday.
My siblings and I spent many winters leaning against our mother as she read the Little House on the Prairie series to us.
We would rush home from school each day and after chores and any homework was done, we would get to read one chapter before super, maybe a second before bed if we were lucky.
Weekend afternoons always meant long stretches of uninterrupted time listening to my mother read about what life easily could have been like for us if we had lived in a different time.
When I was younger, I was convinced I could have made it with Laura out on the Midwest planes of the 1800’s.
Trips in covered wagons sounded terribly exciting and I was sure I could have quickly learned to use a wood stove or sew a dress by hand.
Frankly, I have no idea what I was thinking.
The more I think about it, the thankful I am that I was able to listen to those stories in the comfort of our living room, rather than in real life with Laura herself.
Aside from the fact that statistically, not all the members of my family would have survived the hazards of life all too present back then, there are too many daily life activities that the Ingalls family did on a regular basis that would make me say, “You have got to be kidding me.”
I’ve been known to rough it before and as a farm girl, I’ve been known to complete chores most people wouldn’t want to touch, but collecting cow pie chips to fuel a fire, which is then used to cook supper over, is just too much.
In On the Banks of Plum Creek, the entire Ingalls family catches malaria, supposedly from eating bad watermelon.
Not only would have mistakenly lived in fear of wa-termelon my whole life, malaria is not fun and I imagine it was even less then then.
In the books, Laura re-members the summer that grasshoppers came and literally ate everything, including the family’s crops and livelihood for the coming year.
Firstly, I will never forget the day I was riding my bike as a 10 year old and grasshopper landed right between the tongue of my shoe and my ankle.
Needless to say, there was lots of sudden screaming and frantic efforts to get it out, which unfortunately were not successful until after the bug as accidentally squished.
Secondly, can I get an “amen!” for crop insur-ance?
In the 9 book series, Pa (Charles Ingalls) builds a total of four houses — by hand. I’ve never built a house or any sort of struc-ture for that matter, but I imagine after the first two, I’d be ready to never move again in my life and by the fourth one, living in won would look awfully appealing.
I hate to admit it, but I complain as much as the next person about the winter weather, but the 7 month-long blizzard that Laura recounts in The Long Winter puts all of our complaining to shame.
During that time, the family lived primarily on bread and potatoes, and while I love carbs as much as the next person, I imagine after 7 months, I’d never want to see a spud again.
Inspite of the unglamorous parts of her life, all of Mrs. Wilder’s experiences clearly gave her some wonderful stories to tell and some even better quotes.
Like this one, which I think is the perfect response for any farm visitor unaccustomed to lingering fragrance only farms can produce.
“Every job is good if you do your best and work hard. A man who works hard stinks only to the ones that have nothing to do but smell,” Laura Ingalls Wilder.