When I was little, I read all of the Little House books. My favorite one for some reason was On the Banks of Plum Creek. I was fascinated by the sod house or dugout that they lived in and would spend hours in our pasture "building" my own sod house. I'd wear my bonnet and one of my prairie style dresses and I'd set up a home in the pasture. What? I'm from Oklahoma. Of course I owned a bonnet and a prairie dress. Every kid in Oklahoma had some type of pioneer outfit because you didn't get through elementary school with out re-enacting the Oklahoma Land Run at least once. Actually, I don't even think you're allowed to graduate unless you've been in at least one performance of the musical Oklahoma! . Also, you probably know all of the words to the B.C. Clarke Jewelry store Christmas jingle. You could re-write any of those sentences with "you might be an Oklahoman if..." and my Oklahoma readers out there are all nodding their heads and raising a hand with an "Amen!".
Any way..sod house...Laura Ingalls Wilder. I still had long hair then and mom would put it into two long french braids. I'd put that bonnet on and I was Laura Ingalls. I'd fill my Strawberry Shortcake tablecloth up with dishes, a teapot, maybe some bread if I could sneak it from the kitchen and tie up the ends in a hobo sack and cart all of it out to my makeshift sod house. There was a lot to keeping up your sod house. Sweeping. Setting the table. Finding water. Prairie life wasn't easy and I'd spend all day working on it. While most kids were playing G.I. Joe or Smurf, I was playing Little House on the Prairie. This was not unusual. I played more book characters than cartoon characters. There was a tag game we used to play where you had to say a cartoon character name to keep from getting tagged. I was always getting tagged because I couldn't come up with a cartoon character as quickly as a book character. The summer I read the Little House books was the summer I lived as Laura.
As we made our way up Hwy 29 through South Dakota, my eyes grew large as I read "Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead, Exit 133". I looked over at Talaura to see that she had the same look as I felt I had on my face and said "We might need to make a detour". Talaura did some fast research and when it was discovered that not only was it Laura's homestead, but also where she met and married Almonzo Wilder there was no question. We detoured. I may or may not have emitted a squeal of delight as we drove up to the homestead and once we were inside, I headed straight to the dugout, which had been built as a replica of the one the Ingalls lived in on the banks of Plum Creek in Walnut Grove, MN. I placed my hands on the dirt sod walls. I could smell the earth. I watched my feet kick up little clouds of dust as I walked across the floor. I was standing inside a book. And I've just teared up thinking about it. For a moment, I was once again that little girl with french braids and a bonnet, playing in the pasture.
This is what books and reading does to me. It turns me into a nostalgic sap, but I don't even care. In my lifetime I have been Alice chasing a white rabbit, Lucy peaking through a wardrobe door. I was Juana Maria, surviving on my own on my own little island. And I was Laura Ingalls, living a prairie life and falling in love with Almonzo. I have lived so many lives.
Happy Love Thursday.