I’m a big fan of honesty and authenticity, so, I guess it’s time to just call a spade a spade:
My name is Robynne, and I am a full-blown, no-holds-barred, from-the-top-of-my-head-to-the-tips-of-my-toes rabid fan of pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder!
Whew! There, I said it, and I’m not taking it back!
(Feels kind of good to be out of the prairie water-closet!)
My love affair with the Ingalls and all things ‘prairie’ started when I first read through the series at about 8 years old. I’m not sure what attracted me most: the palpable love in their family, the seeming simplicity of life on a claim, the deep historical interest, the various unique adventures (sliding on frozen lakes toward buffalo wolves, fending off runaway oxen, taming wild horses, etc.) or the pleasure they all took in pulling together and building a future together. It was all very far from my chaotic, violent, suburban childhood. So very, very far.
So I’m sure it began as a way to escape into a world that seemed to hold all I wished I had in mine: peace, love, gentleness, camaraderie, vision, joy, and family unity.
As the years passed, my circumstances changed (and significantly improved!), but my original connection to the Ingalls didn’t fade one little bit. In fact, it deepened. As I read and re-read (and re-read again!) the Little House books, I began to understand the subtle strength of Laura’s character as well as those around her. I began to truly appreciate the difficulty of their lives, what they faced and often left behind, and how much stress and pressure and hardship they endured to merely survive. My deep respect for them all, and every single settler/pioneer/adventurer, blossomed like a wild prairie rose.
Don’t get me wrong. . .I don’t walk around the house wearing a pinafore and sunbonnet these days (shout out to my beloved Gram who kept me well stocked in prairie gear when I was younger, though!), nor do I plan on moving into a soddie any time soon (though I wouldn’t mind a short vacation in one!). And (full disclosure here), I’ve made my home in the decidedly un-prairie location of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California. But, strangely, I feel more connected to the prairie mindset now than ever.
Why? Because I know now it wasn’t the Ingalls or Laura or even the prairie that I was really in love with. It was what they gently, beautifully represented and unintentionally modeled. Through a life of sacrifice, hard work, family unity, and deep faith, they demonstrated that a life worth living is not measured by how much you have or what you wear or who you know. . .it’s measured by how much you love and how open you are to receiving love back.
My own difficult family, and even more challenging childhood, didn’t do much to teach me these hugely important lessons. But a rag-tag crew of pioneers crammed into a one room cabin, with little money and few possessions, taught me a whole lot about tenacity, dignity and, most importantly, love. Those are lessons worth learning about a life worth living.
So, without shame or embarrassment of any kind, I say again: I’m a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan! And you know what else? I want to live on her kind of prairie.