Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Own Laura Ingalls Wilder Journey, so far...

Since I just posted a blog about The Wilder Life, I figured it was an appropriate time to share my own Wilder adventure...

A little over 6 years ago, on my drive from Ohio (yes, I lived in Ohio for 8 months!) to Colorado, I spent some time "geeking out." My variety of geeking out involved visiting some Laura Ingalls Wilder sites. I actually planned my trip around these visits. I figured if I am going to drive halfway across the country, I should see some things along the way! Mansfield, Missouri, happened to be a reasonable place to stop without going out of the way, and it is where Laura spent most of her life and where she wrote the books. Mansfield is a tiny town, almost more of a village really, in the Ozark Mountains. I also attempted to visit the site of THE "Little House on the Prairie," in Independence, Kansas, but was prevented from doing so by extreme flooding. So, no pictures from that--though I did stay in Independence overnight. Below are pictures from Mansfield:

Bust of Laura Ingalls Wilder in the town square in Mansfield.
The gravestone for Laura and her husband Almanzo in the cemetary in Mansfield.
The gravestone for Rose Wilder Lane, Laura & Almanzo's daughter.
View of the side and front of their house from the front lawn.
Me standing on the front porch. (And I must just add, thank goodness I have lost weight AND bought a new bra since then!)
Me on the front porch of their other house, known as the Rock House. It is about a mile away on the same property and was built for them as a gift from their daughter Rose. They only lived in it for a short time and then moved back to their original home.
The garage at the Rock House. For some reason, before I saw this and the guide mentioned that it had held the car that Laura drove, it had never even occurred to me that she may have driven a car! Duh, she rode in wagons!
I have always wanted to share these...and hope one day to add images from trips to other home sites, so...

To be continued...

The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure

I read somewhere that the historical events you fixate on in life are likely to be those events you were in some way connected to in a past life. Do I think I am the reincarnation of Laura Ingalls Wilder? Of course not! Though it would be kind of cool if I was. I do, however, think that if this is the way things work, then I was someone like her--or her pa ;)--in a past life. This is the only possible justification for an obsession with all things Laura Ingalls Wilder that I always knew ran pretty deep.  One that I know is shared by none of my friends or family. I always felt there might be nobody I could realistically categorize as more obsessed than me...maybe just obsessed differently. Then, I read The Wilder Life!

Wendy McClure writes in a way I find really easy to read. Not easy meaning it is low level, but easy meaning I find it comfortable. Maybe I find it to be a lot like I might write if I ever got around to writing a book. I have visited 1 Little House site. The author has visited them all, or at least all of the ones that are on my list of "important ones," all of the ones I would like to visit. She approached them from an entirely different perspective though. She was on a path to try to find the location, or setting, or experience--something, ANYTHING--that would make her feel as if she had truly connected with "Laura World." Maybe even a doorway that would place her in this Laura World. This path lead her on a journey that involved not just visiting the sites where Laura and her family had lived, but also involved participating in many activities Laura likely found herself participating in. Some of these are activities many Laura fans have experienced, like making butter or maple candy. Others go far beyond that, most notably (in my opinion at least) being a visit to a homesteading weekend--one of my favorite parts of the story really!  I wish I could say I found myself shaking my head and wondering what could drive her to such extremes, and I did at times, but mostly I found myself searching online for ways to try these things out myself! Her recounting of all of the adventures is both humorous and sentimental.  And I felt it shared enough about the experience to really be sharing it, but not so much that it would ruin the adventure for her reader, should they be inclined to follow it to some degree.

For the author, this journey was also a very personal one, Laura Ingalls Wilder and her life serving as a conduit to some realizations and answers about herself...and a way to put some parts of her life in place. When I first realized the book was not just about an obsession with Laura, but also about the author's life and the things that might be feeding that obsession, I was disappointed. But I am not one to leave a book unfinished, even a bad one! And this book was far from that.  So onward I forged, and I am glad I did. If you are a fan of the books, or a fan of any book series for that matter, I think you will love this book. But, I also think you will enjoy this book if you are a human who has ever immersed themselves in something they loved as part of the process of dealing with something they couldn't figure out how to navigate...which I am pretty sure is just about EVERYONE!