I was first introduced to Laura Ingalls Wilder at about the age of 8 and grew immediately enamored with her life. I used to dream about “Ma” and “Pa” and would imagine myself gallivanting my little country selfaround the prairie, wheat rustling against my skirt (because, um, it was the 1800s and every chick wore skirts.) I would daydream that the tiny little second-story bedroom I shared with my sister was actually a tiny little loft in a clapboard prairie house and I slept upon a strawtick mattress. I would pretend that my bicycle was actually a horse and we’d gallop all over the neighborhood, houses morphing into rolling grassy hills in my mind. I remember going to school and pretending my Care Bears lunchbox was actually a towel-lined tin bucket. In place of my peanut butter & jelly, I imagined freshly baked bread, homemade jam and a ripe, crisp apple.
And, as much as I loved the television show (I mean, come on…who didn’t think Michael Landon would be the coolest dad ever?) I relished the book series with even more gusto. I would lose myself in the Big Woods and on the banks ofPlum Creek, imagine being courted by Almonzo “Manley” Wilder and picture myself teaching in a one-room schoolhouse. I read each and every book furiously, all the while wistfully wishing I had grown up “on the prairie.”
Fast forward about, oh, uh,25 years.
We’ve had a run of some beautiful weather here recently that has forced me to leave the comfort of my temperature-controlled home and venture “out of doors.” Both of my kids love to be outside and I took the brief respite in rain as the perfect opportunity to spend some time with them and reconnect with nature.
Which totally reignited my love affair with “Little House on the Prairie.” The shining sun and gentle wind shuttled me back to a time when my biggest worry was tracking down the next book in my favorite series. I decided to take full advantage of my renewed inspiration andchannel my inner “Laura Ingalls” by reuniting myself with Mother Earth.
My first task? Weed something.
I could totally do this. I started looking around my yard, my eyes attempting to zero in on some obnoxious weeds. Okay. Has anyone ever noticed how some things that aren’t weeds totally look like weeds? I mean, I tried to explain this to Jer but he wasn’t seeing it. And I calmly explained I would be more than happy to relinquish this specific task right back to him.
Have no fear, Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have not given up.
Second task? Water the plants.
What could be more organic than providing nourishment to God’s bounty? Okay. Has anyone ever noticed that when applying too much water pressure to a flower bed filled with loosely packed mulch it results in a virtual dirt shower? Yep.I was over that quickly.
Okay, so I’m less of a “work outside” kind of Laura and more of an “appreciate my surroundings” kind of Laura.
Third task? Breathe in some fresh air and meditate on nature.
I’m going to be upfront with you here, folks. I didn’t last long at this task. I had the breathing down, alright. But the meditating? My first (and only) attempt at this soul-searching practice resulted in getting hit upside the head with a piece of flying sidewalk chalk. After spending a reasonable amount of time outdoors with my kids I have to admit I hightailed it back into my safety net…the house.
So, after 25 years I have finally come to a startling realization. Laura Ingalls Wilder, I am not. I obviously greatly romanticized what would have been a tough and trying way of life. I never would have made it on the prairie.
I would, however, have totally made it as Nellie Oleson’s nicer and much prettier next-door neighbor. In town.