Laura Ingalls, Revisited
Have you ever
wondered how you will react if your children are starving and light-headed
from malnutrition and you have no food left?
Have you questioned
your resilience to lifes opportunities if you are continually
beat down by nature and circumstances?
Want to know
how to make a smokehouse out of a hollow tree? How to provide heat
when there is no wood left to burn? Crop failure? Wild bees?
When I was
a child, Laura Ingalls Wilder had already published her saga which
included practical homesteading information wrapped inside a series
of books. Her books for children were the story of her growing-up
years in America 145 years ago. She began this autobiography when
she was over 60 years old. She realized a pioneer and frontier way
of life had ended, and she could tell the story. Lauras life
spanned the era from post-Civil War to the modern age. She serialized
her story in the third person, told through the eyes of a little
girl named Laura. As a child, it took me several books before I
understood that the author was the Laura of the books. (My parents
also had to tell me that Alice fell asleep and was only dreaming
when she saw a rabbit run past her tree proclaiming that he was
late, late for a very important date and then pop into the rabbit
hole. I got smarter and more practical as the years passed.) Laura
was a tiny bit naughty occasionally slapping mean children
on the face and had, in her own mind, ugly brown hair instead
of her sisters lovely blond curls. My father would go to out-of-town
conventions from time to time and my present, upon his return, was
a new Laura book.
If you only
know Laura through the television series, Little House on
the Prairie, then you dont know Laura. That family program
only faintly resembles the Laura books by the use of the title of
her second book, Little
House on the Prairie. Eventually, people called the book
series the Little House on the Prairie books. Characters
were even invented for the television series. While television is
entertaining, the book series and the television series are two
Ma and Pa Ingalls
had four daughters, and these girls worked! They were not
entertained to keep out of mischief. A leaf, a stick, a hanky, a
corncob, and plenty of imagination could provide hours of enjoyment
on a tree stump. And they obeyed when given orders, which could
make the difference between life and death (encounter with a bear,
fording a flooding river, fighting a chimney fire or wildfire).
The girls watched over each younger child everyday while the parents
did farm work. Each daughter had daily jobs called chores and they
were expected to be a part of the family and do her part to help
the family survive during treacherous times. For us, "treacherous
times" translate as their "daily life."
was responsible for their own food, and they had to work for almost
every bite. Their diet included a lot of corn, using sacks of cornmeal
traded for furs that Pa had trapped, but occasionally fresh ears
and hulled corn. During The Long Winter, my favorite book, the family
and the whole town is malnourished, out of food, and starving to
death. No trains can get through in order to deliver needed food
supplies to the prairie town due to an extremely harsh winter and
snow that blocks the tracks. Particularly read this book if you
are considering moving to the American
Redoubt and have never lived in the northern tier, i.e. snow
Laura and her
family worked hard and they were not afraid of work. Laura lived
from 1867-1957, ninety years. The childhood privations made her
into the survivor she became and did not destroy her spirit or health.
were written for children. I read them as a child, I read them to
my children, my grandchildren have begun the series, and now I reread
them often. I teach in an urban elementary public school and introduce
my class to Laura by reading one of her books aloud each year. Lauras
lifestyle is completely foreign to my students. However, in light
of the world situation now in 2012, the books are more relevant
than ever. I encourage you to acquire the set of books and cherish
it. The Laura books are written in the style of our mentor, Jim
Rawles. His book Patriots
has been described as a handbook encased in a novel. The Laura books
are how-to books for living in a primitive world without our ready
access to modern conveniences and Wal-Mart.
life spanned the period from right after the Civil War when panthers
roamed the northern Big Woods and her mother cooked over a campfire
on the open prairie, through the Great Depression, both World Wars,
construction of the Interstate Highway system, invention of the
automobile, and atomic bombs. She lived long enough to experience
modern life such as running water, indoor plumbing, rapid transportation,
antibiotics, washing machines, clothes dryers, and air conditioning.
Her life was the essence of adaptability.
How did the
Ingalls family spend their days? They were almost completely independent
of a monetary system; they bartered and traded their way along life.
A single penny was almost a fortune. They simply lived and lived
simply, existed, and thrived, finding happiness and contentment
on the life road they chose with faith, among family and a few friends
in virgin land. These true pioneers had itchy feet, yearning for
new, less crowded horizons with neighbors miles apart and sufficient
wild game to hunt. They stopped moving west when Ma finally put
her foot down and said, No more.
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© 2012 Survival