Moving along

As we travel along with the Ingalls family on their move to the prairie, my thoughts turn to how this is only the first of several moves to a new home, a new community for this family.  Makes for good stories, a broad view of lifestyles in the late 19th century United States. How cool that Laura had so many varied adventures to share with us.

Charles Ingalls, man on the move (image via liwfrontiergirl.com)

It seems that a key reason for this nice long list of stories featuring several types of houses was that Charles Ingalls – Laura’s Pa –  had itchy feet.  He wanted to keep moving West, to open spaces, new opportunities.  According to the site, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frontier Girl, Charles tried his hand as not only a farmer, but also a hunter, trapper, hotel manager, butcher, Justice of the Peace and storekeeper.  Evidently the whole farming thing didn’t work that well for him in the long run – crops failed, then when they grew there were locusts – maybe it was best he tried other things.

For me, one of the most striking lines in the opening pages of Little House on the Prairie comes after Charles has been telling his wife Caroline about life out West among his stories on the long winter nights.  I picture her listening and nodding as she rocks and mends and knits and does other types of work at the end of the day.  Then near the end of the winter he says to her:  “Seeing as you don’t object, I’ve decided to go see the West.  I’ve had an offer for this place, and we can sell it now for as much as we’re ever likely to get, enough to give us a start in a new country.”

Here I think the rocking and nodding must have stopped abruptly – her first response is, “Oh, Charles, must we go now?”  Laura doesn’t embellish this comment by adding, “she implored frantically” or “she shrieked hysterically” – but I know it must have been the case.  Laura just goes on to explain that her mother didn’t want to move quite yet because it was still freezing outside and the Little House was so warm and cozy.  Right.

But move they did, obviously.  Another favorite line comes when Laura describes the packing up of their belongings – “Everything from the little house was in the wagon, except the beds and tables and chairs.  They did not need to take these, because Pa could always make new ones.”  Our family has moved many times, and let me tell you, if my husband could just whip up some new furniture each time, it would have made the whole process a lot simpler!

And Katie and I both agree that if we were moving via covered wagon in the winter time, and we had to cross a frozen lake, we would prefer not to wait until the day before the ice was about to start breaking up to make the attempt.  Maybe we’re wimps, but that’s how it is.

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4 responses to “Moving along

  1. LOL! Patti, I’m sure you were wishing that Ed could have re-made all of the furniture and crap you so generously helped him pack for our move to Florida!

    • 🙂 She states it so matter-of-factly in the story, it kind of took me by surprise! That would change everything! Of course, it would help if he could build appliances as well.

  2. I love your blog because my daughter (7 years old) and I are reading Little House on the Prairie right now too, just after finishing Little House in the Big Woods. I’m excited to see what else you read next so that we can read along with you.
    Along the lines of Pa always moving west, we just finished chapter 18 last night in which Laura asks Pa about moving west and the government forcing the Native Americans off of the land. Pa gets a little testy with her. Their dialogue opened up a good conversation with my daughter on the wrongs of the past and the right way to treat people, which obviously isn’t to force them off of their land. I lived on two Native American reservations growing up. I don’t know what the solution is, but the past sure isn’t pretty and hasn’t made the future very bright for them.

    • Yeah, I can tell right off it’s going to be interesting reading about the whole Native American aspect – we’ve been living in a PC world so long, it’s tough to read the comments about “Indians” like they are some interesting objects out there to be dealt with.

      If you look at our first post, you can see the list of our first 5 books – I think “Half Magic” is up next.

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