Monday, March 19, 2018

Little House on the Prairie - again - by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House on the Prairie
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Published 1935

When I last wrote on this blog about Little House, I expressed a feeling of great anxiety. Besides the perils of traveling, crossing frozen ice and raging rivers, and almost losing the family guard dog - once the Ingalls family found a place to settle - it was one difficulty after another: Ma's sprained ankle, surprise Indian visits, Indian theft, packs of wolves, screaming panthers, chimney fires, mysterious prairie fires that nearly struck their home, an incapacitating family illness, and an Indian war council that almost ended in a massacre.

Finally, after an entire year of these misadventures, the U.S. government threatened to remove settlers from the land if they did not leave on their own, as they were a few miles over the border into Indian Territory (even though the Indians had already moved West).

So this time I soaked in Laura's beautiful descriptions of the prairie and the flowers and the wildlife.

One of my favorite passages that I copied into my commonplace journal was this:
The prairie looked as if no human eye had ever seen it before. Only the tall wild grass covered the endless empty land and a great empty sky arched over it. Far away the sun's edge touched the rim of the earth. The sun was enormous and it was throbbing and pulsing with light. All around the sky's edge ran a pale pink glow, and above the pink was yellow, and above that blue. Above the blue the sky was no color at all. Purple shadows were gathering over the land, and the wind was mourning. 
And this:
All along the road the wild larkspur was blossoming pink and blue and white, birds balanced on yellow plumes of goldenrod, and butterflies were fluttering.  Starry daisies lighted the shadows under trees, squirrels chattered on branches overhead, white-tailed rabbits hopped along the road, and snakes wriggled quickly across it when they heard the wagon coming.
Laura was a master of aesthetic descriptions of the natural environment, as well as expressions of deep human emotions and thought, particularly her own. She was not ashamed to share her deepest thoughts, no matter how raw or naughty. 

I look forward to reading the next books in The Little House series (again) because Laura's stories only mature and her descriptions of nature flourish, especially as she becomes the eyes for her sister Mary, who later loses her eyesight.

The prairie near the Little House replica in Independence, Kansas.

4 comments:

  1. I'm rereading this book with my mama right now. I haven't read it since 2010, & it has always stood as my least favorite in the Little House series. Ten years later, & it reads like a different book, full of adventure and perseverance, and I'm really enjoying it. :) Mom favors The Long Winter so far, but she seems to really like this one. I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE MR. EDWARDS CHRISTMAS SCENE. All we have left are By the Shores of Silver Lake, Little Town on the Prairie, and The First Four Years. x

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  2. It always makes me smile to hear you and your mom are reading these Little House books. I like how readers grow and mature over time, so that rereads bring new experiences, help us reflect differently than our first read, and bring new ideas to the forefront, even lighter works like Little House.

    Earlier last year I started craving the series AGAIN, but I can't. I want to read my unread shelf. So this past Christmas, I told my kids I felt like a Little House Christmas. I took ideas from the Cook Book, and we made chicken (black bird) pot pie, fruit pie, and I bought taffy and hard candy. And my girls decorated oranges with cloves. My sister asked sarcastically if everyone had to dress in period dress, and I said no, but if I had something, I would have worn it. LOL!!!

    But back to the books....Edwards showing up for Christmas makes one feel like a kid again.

    So are you going to skip over The Long Winter in the series?

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  3. That sounds like an awesome themed Christmas! I would have worn the dress too! :D

    We read The Long Winter two years ago. We're doing them out of order. We originally planned to just read a book a year at Christmas. In 2010 we started with A Christmas Carol. We didn't plan to go beyond that: I just thought it would be fun to read that specific book aloud together so we could experience it the way a Victorian family would.

    Well, it was so fun reading aloud for Christmas 2010 that we decided to do another Christmas book the following year. (In 2011 we read Charles Dickens's other Christmas stories, which were tongue-twisters and nowhere near as good as A Christmas Carol, but it's a good memory because we laughed A LOT trying to figure out what in the world he was talking about in some of the stories which DID NOT DO IT FOR US.) :)

    I think in 2012, we read a book about the time Christmas stopped the fighting on a battlefield during the Civil War. I believe it was the following year that we read The Little House Christmas Treasury, and my mom's eyes shined and she LOVED it. She's never read the Little House books. We did a couple other stories, but around 2017, I suggested reading through the Little House series a book at a time. "They all have Christmas scenes, so they'd be awesome for Christmas!" She concurred, because The Little House Christmas Treasury had been her favorite reading Christmas to date.

    Those reading Christmases have grown in the last couple years into simply reading together throughout the year, as time allows, and reading beyond Christmas books. We just completed Anne of Green Gables (now my mother's absolute favorite, she had never read it and found it hysterical), then The Secret Garden (Mom didn't like this one because she couldn't do the accents and found it difficult to read aloud, so I read most of it aloud and did the accents, but it still fell a little flat compared to Anne Shirley).

    We were going to save the Little House books for Christmas, but I said LET'S EAT THEM NOW, so we're finishing them up.

    As I recall, we've read in this order:

    ❀ On the Banks of Plum Creek (Christmas 2017) - We read this one first because it is the setting of the syndicated series and I wanted her to read the "real" Nellie. :P
    ❀ The Long Winter (Christmas 2017) - SHE LOVED THIS ONE. She would say "let's read!" when she saw me because WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN.
    ❀ Farmer Boy (Christmas 2018) - Since she'd met Almanzo in The Long Winter, I wanted her to see him as a child, and this book felt Christmasy to me.
    ❀ These Happy Golden Years (Christmas 2018) - I wanted her to see THEIR LOVE STORY. <3
    ❀ Little House in the Big Woods (finished this Christmas 2019) - When we read The Little House Christmas Treasury, she really liked the doll Charlotte, and I knew she'd love dancing Grandma.
    ❀ Little House on the Prairie (reading right now because we don't want to wait for Christmas) - We both find this one adventurous.

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  4. Well, I think it is really beautiful that you and your mom enjoy reading together, especially Little House.

    It's fun reading in accents, too. I've tried it with my kids, but when they were younger, for some reason, they asked me NOT TO, which I suspect is because I also did a terrible job. But now that we read Shakespeare together aloud, they like to have British accents. Everyone is British in Shakespeare, regardless fo the setting.

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