‘Now’: Thoughts on the Closing of Little House in the Big Woods

She thought to herself, ‘This is now.’

She was glad that the cosy house, and pa and ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.

A Little (or a lot) about Laura) | The 1000th Voice blog
Three years ago I began a journey to rediscover the literary world of Laura Ingalls Wilder; the world I’d first discovered as a child growing up near the Little Town on the Prairie – De Smet, S.D.

Three years ago, these words, as they ended the first book Little House in the Big Woods, permanently lodged into my brain. I’ve mulled them over; I’ve even been inspired by them to live in the ‘now.’ As I began rereading Little House in the Big Woods recently, these words pulled me to the end.

Through some ups and downs (some documented), I’ve eventually accepted and even now embraced Rose Wilder Lane’s impact on the books. The series would not be what it is without Rose’s expertise and work. From typing to editing to finding and working with an agent, Rose was instrumental in the creation of the books we know and love. When I think about these closing lines, I find myself contemplating their origin. Were these Rose’s words? Were they Laura’s?

Rose seemed to be more conscious of creating a legacy and the idea of how impactful these books could be. As she took the manuscript that has now been printed as Pioneer Girl, she morphed and coaxed the words into a different form and prodded her mom to recall and write more. And, because it is Rose, we know she antagonized her some as well.

I find it plausible that Rose wrote or really shaped this passage. In Laura’s non-Little House writings, she seemed to use more to-the-point language about practical, and at-their-core less philosophical topics. Rose was a philosopher, incorporating ideas of truth, knowledge and the meaning of life into her own writing, and, quite likely, her Mom’s fictional work.

As we get to know the Ingalls family in the big woods of Wisconsin, we learn many lessons by the fire with Pa. But, these lessons frequently focus on how little boys and little girls are supposed to act. Certainly, Laura and Mary learned about life through these stories, but they were more prosaic than this philosophical lesson of always being present in the life that you’re leading.

Switching perspectives, Laura did experience those nights by the fire listening to Pa (or whatever actually happened). As she recounted her life, I can believe that she began to look at her life in a new lens – one with more sentimentality and a greater desire to relive the times she was writing about – for them to be “now” and not “a long time ago.”

As it’s want to do, life had changed significantly from the pioneer days when she was six years old. To the time the first book was published, nearly 60 years had passed and many innovations had revolutionized and improved the quality of life. From riding in a covered wagon for DAYS to driving her car to the train depot a couple hours away, from water at the spring to water at the indoor tap, these lines can be seen as communicating that not so much time had passed since “Grandma Was a Little Girl,” so you best listen to these life lessons.

Not so much time had passed that the lessons throughout the book don’t apply to now – the actual now, the moment we’re living in as we experience her writing no matter how many years pass, even if that’s another 60 to 80 years or more.

***

There are lessons contained throughout the entire series, but this one is the key to enjoying this story, the entire Little House series and life itself.
IMG_7793My journey to rediscover Laura included a trip to De Smet. Or rather, that trip for a family reunion was the catalyst for my decision to find Laura again. We gathered at Lake Thompson in a lodge built in the early 1900s. When we arrived, the wind was blowing intensely as it does in South Dakota. Our activities were limited, but we found places to enjoy our time from reading throughout the lodge and across the lawn to running in the waves. But, we had to put off pulling out the catamaran, at least for those not adventurous enough to truly ride the waves.

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Eventually, the wind died down. Claire, just three years old at the time with a blonde bob and shining blue eyes, was so excited to sail for the first time. As I sat on the sailboat holding Claire, I looked down at her tiny toes with pink nail polish, and I thought, happily, “This is now. It will always be now, and never a long time ago.”

They’re All Just Big Kindergarteners

What are we doing in this country?

Recently my daughter’s kindergarten teacher debuted a new behavior management plan for the classroom. When a child receives three strikes, a fix-it ticket is sent home. The ticket lets parents know what happened and provides a space for the student to write how to fix her behavior (or, more specifically, how to could cope better in the future).

We’ve had two tickets come home. Without prompting, Claire knew what to do and her solution was simple: belly breaths. Yes, with five year olds it’s both necessary and important to remind them to take a deep breath before doing anything else when they’re upset. The deep breaths will give her time to relax, clear her mind and refocus her attention to appropriate behavior.

I was at once surprised and, really, not so surprised by this basic response. As a parent there have been many moments when I’ve witnessed this – things almost so basic we forget they need to be taught. (And let’s not even get into how many times I’ve said things I could have never imagined saying before.)

But, then it’s not really simple at all, is it? I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to remind myself to take a deep breath to relax and respond in an appropriate manner. And there are many times I’ve forgotten to take a deep breath.

Here’s where we arrive at today.

I constantly see examples of others publicly forgetting to take their own belly breaths. As I see it, the Starbucks holiday cup fiasco is one of them. In past years, the cups were more designed or stylized but never have they been religious – no crosses, no Nativity scenes. Yet, when the cups go from a snowman to a whole-cup starburst pattern, it’s OK (both of which, by the way, are not Christmas but winter themed). But now Starbucks moves to red ombre, and they’ve crossed the line. What line? Where were the belly breaths? I can only assume that the outraged took a quick drink of their hot, fresh Starbucks and couldn’t take a deep breath lest they scald their horrified throats.

If they had been able to take a deep breath, they could have regained their perspective and realized that, yes, there are groups out there who want to eliminate Christianity. In fact, they’re kidnapping and beheading people right now. Perspective – Let’s keep it in mind.

Additionally, as many surveys are indicating, fewer people are identifying as Christian today. The vocal minority in situations like this are making Christians seem prejudiced, rigid and unaccepting. It’s turning people off from joining Churches, something most Christians can agree is not what we want.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Season’s Greetings! Happy Holidays!

A Little Announcement

If you haven’t noticed, it’s been quite dark around here lately and for good reason.

Claire & ChristianChristian was born September 7th. We’re all very happy and in love, but so very tired. I’ve hardly read a page since September 6th.

Next week I’ll begin my 2014 Halloween Reads series. I have a number of creepy, gothic books on tap. Now, I just need to get to reading them!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a chance to get out to see the fall colors (depending on where you live)!

 

What I’m Into | 8.2014

Well, August sure seemed to fly by. We visited the Renaissance Fair for the first time and had a blast. Lots of fun things filled the month, including these books and shows.

Read & Reading

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

My commute was made far less annoying by listening to The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett and Our Lady of the Forest by David Guterson. August, or rather just Labor Day weekend, provided some good reading for me. I finished No More Words by Reeve Lindbergh, Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner, The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphical Biography by Sid Jacobson and The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. All of them were quite good!The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography

Watched & Watching

Bachelor in Paradisethe drama is just too much fun.

ManhattanThis is well-scripted, produced and cast. It’s amazing. It airs on WGN.

MarriedI really like Judy Greer, and I’m happy to see her in a starring role. Dark and funny!

Saving for Later

 

via

This recipe for Italian Pot Roast & Parmesan Risotto looks amazing!

I’ve pinned a lot of navy blue and gray pieces and outfits to my Fashion board for fall. Various additional items in those colors will really fit into my current closet.

What were you into this month?

**Linking up with Leigh Kramer**

What I’m Into | 7.2014

While this post may not make it seem so, I’ve felt super busy this last month. Take a look at what’s been going on…

Read & Reading

Reading is a place I’ve excelled this month, finishing Zenith City: Stories from Duluth by Michael Fedo, The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer, Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois and Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead. My favorite read this month by far was definitely Cartwheel!

Currently, I’m not exactly reading anything. I finished Zenith City at lunch. I have a number of books queued up at home, but I’m not sure yet which one I’ll grab.

Watched & Watching

While Claire was with her grandparents lat week, we watched a few of the movies that we can’t watch with her. Prior to that, I think I just watched a ton of kids movies.

World War Z….I haven’t read the book and honestly probably won’t. The movie freaked me out. I like to think of my zombies as slow moving and easy to outrun.

Chernobyl Diariesjust don’t.

Friends with Kids…loved it! Jennifer Westfeldt did a good job writing and directing.

We also very quickly finished True Blood’s sixth season. It’s so much fun to watch!

We recently watched The Lego Movie and Rio 2. Both were a lot of fun!

Saving for Later

Treehouse, house in the trees...It's all a little tomato/tomahto to me when it looks like this.

Treehouse, house in the treesvery tomato/tomahto when it looks like this! Bonus: it’s built from a recycled barn! I’m pretty sure I found a new blog to follow!

Cooking

I have no concept lately of what cooking is.

Obsessed With

I'm so obsessed with succulents and succulent arrangements right now.

My Pinterest board for a party I’m helping plan is full of various succulent arrangements. I love how they mix with rustic or more glam items!

I'm in love with the concept of capsule wardrobes.

Two words: Capsule. Wardrobes. I’ve been obsessed for awhile. So simple to get ready every morning. Now I’m thinking about how I can make this happen in my own closet. My goal will be to create a capsule of basics and add in some pieces of color and pattern. I’ve been pinning quite a bit. My favorites are ones that show the items and all the outfit possibilities.

What were you into this month?

**Linking up with Leigh Kramer**

What I’m Into | 2.2014

Please just assume I’ve written a cliche about being tired of the cold weather here. It was actually a witty take on the cliche, though.

Watched & Watching

As a person, I greatly dislike Tom Cruise, and this had frequently impacted my thoughts of his movies before even watching them. But my husband doesn’t pay attention to celebrity gossip, so he’s added a number of Tom Cruises movies to our queue. I begrudgingly agree to watch them, and then realize I’m totally pulled in. Most recently this happened to me with Oblivion.

Like most households, we’ve watched a lot of Olympics coverage this month. Claire comes home from pre-school and asks if we can watch. Thanks to watching Cool Runnings with her a week before the Olympics started, she’s a bobled fan, and in particular a Jamaican bobsled fan!

CSI returned last week. After how many seasons, I’m still interested in watching the show that launched the entire franchise. Some storylines and crimes are beyond cheesy, but I find the show as a whole very entertaining.

Saving for Later

Jessica & Scott's East Coast Nest House Tour from Apartment Therapy

I adore this house tour from Apartment Therapy.

Alice Walker on Creativity from Brain Pickings. Alice Walker. Creativity. Brain Pickings. You can’t go wrong with that combo.

An overabundance of opinions: the case for climbing down from the social media soapbox. Amazing. Must read. Please go there now!

Cooking

Three words: Homemade Zuppa Toscana! Yes, if you’re a fan of the Olive Garden staple soup, then you’ll love this recipe. My husband requested that it become a regular meal. It does take about an hour of prep, which isn’t easy on a weeknight by the time I get home from work, but I might attempt to freeze some of the next batch.

Obsessed With

Can I say I’m obsessed with reading books and not reviewing them? No? OK, well then please expect the last two books I read for black history month to be reviewed in March.

What were you into this month?

**Linking up with Leigh Kramer**

What I’m Into | 1.2014

So cliche to say, but January has flown by. It’s been so cold and so fast. Because I’ve spent a lot of time inside, I’ve watched a lot of TV and browsed a lot of the internet.

Watched & Watching

My guilty pleasure this month has been Rob Dyrdek–Fantasy Factory and Ridiculousness. It’s just so funny!

On Christmas day we took Claire to Frozen, and we all really enjoyed it.

The Bachelor! I’m not attracted to Juan-Pablo at all, but my husband and I have been really into watching this.

Saving for Later

Budget Travel put out their list of 10 best budget trips for 2014. I hope more travel finds its way onto our calendar this year. Maybe not these trips, but I can dream!

A very interesting perspective from Alyssa Rosenberg on how Beyonce’s and Jay-Z’s Grammy performance is a good example of how marriage can be mutually beneficial.

Creativity is one of my two words for 2014. I’ll write about them later. I read this great piece at Elise Blaha’s blog about how she encourages inspiration.

Cooking

This Jalopeno Popper Chicken Chili from Prevention RD was delicious. I definitely have to make it again.

Mine doesn’t look nearly as pretty, but I’ve made the skinnytaste Zucchini Lasagna twice and it’s been a hit!

Obsessed With

Whatever makes yard work easier is OK in my book.

I went on a mad Project Life pinning spree. I think these little guys from Jennifer Labre Designs are cute!

Crewel work! I was fortunate enough to put my name on some of my late Grandma’s pieces. They still haven’t been distributed yet, but I know exactly where they’ll go. This piece (not my Grandma’s work) is a really nice autumnal scene.

What were you into this month?

**Linking up with Leigh Kramer**