Laura Ingalls Wilder told tales of brutal winters in the wide open South Dakota flatland, stories failed by my imagination even as I stood on my back porch and contemplated the distance to the weathered red barn, wondering how merciless a blizzard had to be for a guy to tie a rope to himself so he didn’t get lost on the way to feed the livestock. I recall seeing pictures of the real Ingalls family and finding them all to be a bit weathered and ruddy themselves, nothing at all like Landon and Gilbert’s polished-for-television characters. And I figure, to have the will to survive out here, in a little house on the prairie, one was going to have to toughen up one way or the other.
I was in the Ingalls neighborhood the other day on a claims investigation. A house had burned a mile or so from the old homestead in De Smet, the setting for The Long Winter and Little Town on the Prairie, just a couple of hours from my home.
I’m writing about my two worlds between the highway and the prairie, living in the land of the Little House books today at Tweetspeak. Come over and read the rest.