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Little House on the Prairie

grassesWhen I was a girl, I read all the little house on the prairie books.  I read them in order, of course, and I remember being enchanted with the early books, especially Little House in the Big Woods, and less interested in the books that were written later in the series.  I wanted to *be* Laura while she was making maple sugar candy or playing on the prairie, and there were a couple of Halloweens when I even dressed up as a prairie girl in a costume my mom sewed, complete with sunbonnet and calico print.

Now that Beatrice is old enough to listen to the Little House books, we’ve started reading through them.  We gobbled up Little House in the Big Woods and had to wait for our library request to come through before we could read Little House on the Prairie.  Once we had our hands on a copy we “zoomed and boomed” through it, as Bea says.  We gulped down ten chapters on Sunday alone.  It doesn’t hurt that the weather has started lashing rain and wind.  Curling up on the couch with a big book and a blanket feels exactly right, so that’s what we’re doing.

What has surprised me about re-reading Little House on the Prairie is how much my perspective has changed now that I’m a parent. Instead of reading it from Laura’s perspective, now I’m reading it from Ma’s.  What would it be like to pack up your family in a covered wagon and set off across a frozen lake to unknown Indian Territories, leaving your extended family and cozy little house behind?  How did Ma manage to keep three little girls occupied in a one-room log cabin through a prairie winter with no toys, books or playdates?  When we got to the part where they had to ford the stream and Pa leaped out to swim beside the horses and lead them to safety, I had to stop a moment and choke back a few tears.  “Oh, Charles!” Ma said.

Our day to day troubles are so small in comparison.  Nobody is going to suffocate at the bottom of our half-dug well.  Nobody has had malaria.  We haven’t had to raise a house from scratch and then leave it a year later, with the plow still there on the field.  “All’s well that ends well,” Pa said.  But I wonder what Ma and Pa said to themselves late at night when the girls were asleep.