Monday, May 28, 2012

My Friend in the Little House

Every year or so I pull out my "Little House" books and follow along with Laura and Mary as they grow up during the pioneer days. As a kid I read the series to tatters and had to resort to duct tape, twine, super glue, and anything else I could get my hands on, to keep the pages together. I finally bought a new set at the age of 25, in the same blue binding, and when I look at the old illustrations I always have to smile.

Growing up I was the only one my age in a 10 mile radius. The nearest kid lived 3 miles away and was 5 years younger. During the summer, except for 4-H and the rare playdate, I hardly saw anyone who wasn't an adult. We didn't have Internet back then and there were only 10 channels that came in clear on the old satellite. To play with was the neighbor and my own much younger siblings. I ended up reading a great deal. Grabbing a book and finding a shady spot by the river, or hiking up to the barn and laying out in the pasture with the horses, I would open up the pages and go on wild adventures with kids my own age, who understood the trials and tribulations I was going through.

My favorites were the "Little House" books. Just like Laura I would help with butchering and canning, working in the garden or caring for the livestock. I preferred to be outdoors helping Pa rather than cooped up inside. I liked to write and kept a journal though the entries always seemed quite boring in comparison to hers. Laura was, in a way, my imaginary friend during a time of loneliness and difficulty.

Reading the "Little House" books now makes me homesick. I wish I could trade this suburban house for a little farmhouse-someplace close enough to town so my own children can have friends and playmates, but far enough away to have pastures and livestock. As a kid I wanted to live in town, to have friends close-by but now I want breathing space, to not hear the neighbor's arguments or have other peoples' pets using my flowerbeds as a toilet.

I've started looking at farm and ranch properties and I've set a goal to be moved out in 5 years. I want to get back to the ranch, to get back to muddy boots and Wranglers, to cows and pigs and fresh garden veggies, to fishing in the rain and the warm smell of freshly baled hay. I want my kids to know the freedom of going for a walk without worrying about bullies yelling insults or needing to carry pepper spray. I want them to attend a small school where the teacher will actually have time to help them, and where bomb threats and shootings are things that happen somewhere else.

Its going to take me at least 5 years but who cares. Five years is nothing. In that time maybe I'll finally learn how to sew and crotchet! And when I get discouraged of ever finding the perfect place (or figuring out the finances) I'll read the "Little House" books out-loud for my kids and dream of our perfect farm, just waiting to be found.

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