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Filtering by Tag: Laura Ingalls Wilder

I'M STALKING THE GHOST OF LAURA INGALLS WILDER

Cindy Maddera

Remember way back in June when we took that family vacation to the beach and how when we passed through Mansfield MO I had to choose between Bakers Creek Seeds or Laura Ingalls Wilder's home? Michael and I talked about how we'd go back eventually and attend one of the Bakers Creek's festivals and go to the Laura Ingalls Wilder home. I figured "eventually" really meant "years from now" or "never", but in actuality "eventually" meant "it is happening." Sunday morning, Randy, Katrina, the Cabbage, Michael and I all wedged ourselves into my car and drove from their cabin near Branson all the way over to Mansfield on a twisty hilly road. I may have goaded Michael into going faster over some of those hills for thrill factor. 

I have to admit that the best good thing about the Bakers Creek festival was the vegan cinnamon roll. There were only a handful of booths there and half of them were produce. Plus it was hot. Really hot. We did not spend a lot of time at the festival, but I did buy more Brussels sprout seeds because I can't find the ones I purchased earlier. The Cabbage got to listen to blue grass music and see some sheep. The next stop was the stop I was most excited about though. Our next stop was the Rocky Ridge Farmhouse, the house where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote all of the Little House books. Did you just hear me squee? I know right. I knew this was going to be good because as soon as we pulled into the parking lot, we ended up parking next to the cutest orange Volkswagen bus. The couple sitting in the front were from Ontario. I told them that I loved their little bus and I that I hoped they were enjoying their trip. They said they were except for the heat because they did not have air conditioning. Eeesh. They did have a Shaun the Sheep doll in the back and spoke in lovely accents. I almost climbed onto the back and became their stowaway. 

Once we crossed the street and made it to the museum, we were greeted by a very eager and controlling older woman who told us right off the bat that our tour group wouldn't be happening for another hour and I was confused because I just wanted to go inside the house and I didn't need a tour guide for this. When she saw the look on my face she said "forget it. we'll just open the house up for self guided tours today. We're too busy." So with that, we purchased our tickets, watched a short film and then walked on into Laura's house. Laura and Almanzo moved with their daughter Rose to Mansfield in 1894 and purchased the farm. They lived in town until they finished work on a one bedroom log cabin on the farm. They moved here in 1913 while they finished building the farmhouse. The farmhouse would be added too over time making it a bigger space with a formal living room and tiny library nook. Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in this house for most of the rest of her life. She and Almanzo lived for a short amount of time in the Rock House, a house that Rose had built for them on the farm that had all the modern conveniences.  The Rock House was where the first Little House on the Prairie books were written. They have plans to open that house up for tours next year.

I don't know what happened to me once I got inside that house. I didn't take any pictures. I was too busy trying not to touch all the things that had please do not touch signs on them. The first thing Michael did was open the oven in the kitchen and when he leaned down to look in he was right at eye level to one of those signs. Did you know that Laura (we're on a first name basis now) was only 4'11?!? I could have carried her around in my pocket. Almanzo had the kitchen custom built for her height, so all the counter tops are really short. This is only sad if I think about how I could never bake pies with Laura Ingalls Wilder with out having back pains. I did manage to have Michael take my picture on the front porch of the house. So that's something. I realized at some point while standing in Laura's bedroom that I might be slightly obsessed. I started planning trips to her childhood homes in Kansas, Wisconsin and Minnesota (we saw the one in South Dakota last year). Michael did not seem as excited about this idea as I did, but he'll change his tune once I make it a life list thing. I'm sure of it. 

LOVE THRUSDAY

Cindy Maddera

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.