I read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books growing up, several times over. I suppose they were my first major time investment in historical fiction, which is still one of my favorite genres. Don’t start emailing me, readers to correct that statement because you think the Little House series is a factual memoir: it’s not at all. The books, wonderful as they are, are only based on Mrs. Wilder’s childhood with her pioneer family, but they are still among the best children’s books out there.
In second grade, my second grade teacher read Little House on the Prairie aloud during our circle time, and I was immediately enthralled by the descriptions of events long, long before my birth. When the same amazing teacher brought whipping cream in a big pickle jar, which we shook to “churn” out the butter, I officially had a longing for the good old days. Historical fiction for kids rarely talks about the realities of the outhouse or wool underwear or nasty things like polio, so I admit my longing was through rose-coloured time travel glasses. I am grateful each and every day of my life for toilet paper and running water, but that’s grown-up me talking.
As much as I loved the Little House books, I never saw the television series. We had all the things we needed growing up out in the country, but we certainly didn’t have cable. Our three English channels featured lots of curling, hockey, and The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights, but Laura and her t.v. family never did make it into our living room. Luckily for me, I didn’t know what I was missing.
By some stroke of magical station programming, episodes of Little House on the Prairie run every weeknight at five on some obscure little channel the company tosses for free into my (cheapo cheapo don’t wanna throw money away on many fancy stations) cable package. It’s a re-run miracle! Also, it plays during the hour I usually set aside for blogging and dealing with email, so I don’t feel like a slacker for sitting on the couch when there’s work to be done.
Right now, right this very minute, Pa is working extra hours to buy a secondhand set of snazzy china for Ma, but he’s fibbed about where he’s working so Ma won’t suspect he’s planning a surprise. Poor, sweet Ma is about to jump to the conclusion that Charles has a little somethin’ on the cooker with the (remarkably hot) widow for whom he’s been building cabinetry for the extra money. I’m only 24 minutes into the one hour show, but I am sure there will be a joyful end to this little story; it’s not the kind of show they make any more, and that’s a shame. If this were a modern series, Ma would kill both her husband and the widow with something odd, like her button-hook, and someone from the coroner’s office would have to solve the crime by the end of the hour. It’s nice to watch some simple television, the kind without autopsies, these days.
I’m working my way through Little House one episode at a time. Never mind that the station plays all the seasons completely out of order, so that some days Mary is blind and Laura is pregnant, and then by the next week they’re little girls again. The episodes can stand alone, and I’ve seen enough of them now to piece things together on my own.
Maybe I should sign the books out from the library, for old times’ sake.
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