Friday, December 13, 2013

Laura Ingalls Wilder

               For days, I have been thinking I need to put something out on my blog, but I have been busy with the holidays and a book covers class I have been taking.  I just went out to see when I last posted.  I am appalled!  So, here is a piece I wrote about a month ago.  I had the good fortune to talk my husband and daughter to drive a couple of hours to mark an item off my bucket list.  Here is the post I wrote but forgot to put on my blog.

                One of my favorite activities while traveling is discovering new places and visiting the lives of famous people from the past.  This past week my family and I journeyed to Missouri to see my younger son graduate from Military Police school for the National Guard at Fort Leonard Wood.  We flew out a couple days earlier grabbing the opportunity to see some sites. 

We drove to Mansfield, Missouri to see the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The rundown little town showed no signs of fame.  In fact many buildings stood in dilapidated ruins in need of repair.  In less than six blocks, we traveled down a country lane meandering through the hills with naked trees lining the asphalt.  Rusty and gold leaves carpeted the countryside forming a natural quilt keeping the tree roots warm in the colder temperatures.

                A sign distinguished the small white farmhouse from other properties along the road.  We turned up the drive to be greeted by an elderly volunteer.  She invited us into the warm building housing a nice size collection of family photos and treasures, including a fiddle.  I enjoyed the photographs which reminded me of my own family photos I have inherited.  My daughter loved the old typewriter.  The photos captured my interest, but I anxiously awaited the announcement for the tour to begin.  Old West museums bore me due to the fact that I have grown up with them all my life. 

                After sitting through a video and looking at farming implements, of which I have some in my garage, we finally entered the house, the little house.  Laura stood only 4 foot 11 inches.  The kitchen displayed the love Almanzo held for Laura.  He built custom countertops for her to cook on.  She hated making bread, so he installed two tall windows framing her counter to be able to look outside as a distraction as she kneaded the dough.  He also built a wood room to store all the firewood off the kitchen so Laura needn’t go outside in the cold.  This warmed my heart.

                In my favorite room of the house, Laura showed her love for Almanzo.  He slept lightly and awoke at the smallest sounds.  In the middle of the night, Laura would be inspired to write.  She softly walked to her writing room just off their bedroom.  Not much bigger than a closet, Laura sat at a small desk writing the beloved Little House on the Prairie books.  Instead of waking Almanzo up upon her return to bed, she instead spent the rest of the night sleeping on a chaise lounge in her little office.  Two nice big window on two of the walls let in the sun giving her plenty of light during the day.  Besides the desk and lounge, only enough room allowed for her to walk through to the living room.  I thought it a perfect writers retreat.

                The information I learned about Rose Wilder Lane, Laura and Almanzo’s only living child, surprised me.  I knew she worked as a journalist in San Francisco, but I didn’t know she was one of the highest paid writers of her day.  She wrote quite a few books.  With her money, she built her parents a retirement home just up the road and she installed the old home with electric lights and other modern conveniences.  I found two of her books on Amazon and downloaded them to my Kindle.  I look forward to reading them in the coming months.

                I loved learning all of these little details of Laura’s life.  When I was a little girl, I wanted to be just like her back in the world of riding in buggies, dancing to a fiddle, baking from scratch, and gardening.  Of course, I also dreamed of teaching, writing, and falling in love.  The simple life of Laura still calls to me.  Granted, I would be very hesitant to relinquish my kindle, computer, and modern machinery, but I look at my modest home and hope I am keeping to a simpler life than most.