Know who we haven’t discussed in a while? Come on, take a guess. Who do I live to talk about the most, other than myself? Yeah, Laura!! As in, Laura Ingalls Wilder, my favorite imaginary best friend in the whole world. I mean, I know she was a real person, but she also became my imaginary friend in my 1970’s childhood.
Laura…she’s such an important part of the LGR story. So many times, when faced with a new Foodiness™ nightmare or unfathomable modern age industrialized food horror, I think, “what would Laura make of this?” Would she even recognize what we call food today, as food? Some stuff, sure. Meat, vegetables, butter. It probably wouldn’t taste very good to her, since in her day, food had much more flavor before we industrially pounded it out in favor of uniformity, controlled ripeness or factory farming.
Throughout the course of the eight or so LHOTP books, we, the readers are taken along with the Ingalls family on their peripatetic journey as they make their way west, from Wisconsin’s big woods, to Kansas’s Indian Territory, to Minnesota, and Nebraska, and finally, DeSmet South Dakota. They endure all the standard hardships of late 19th century life; blizzards, scorching heat and drought, record-setting cold, long winters, plagues of locusts, near-lethal fevers, attacks by Indians, the standard stuff. We suffer and rejoice along with them, freeze and sweat, break sod and strain the milk. Work our skinny pre-20th century asses off, just trying to survive. Literally.
What we don’t do, is sit around moping and philosophically pondering our greater purpose with them, because at least as Laura tells it, there wasn’t ever time for any of that stuff. There were always cows to milk and straw to twist into fuel sticks for the fire and laundry water to boil and beans to soak and biscuit dough to make and dirt floors to sweep and fields to plow, but never really much time to think “maybe I shouldn’t have spent 4 years at art school and then changed my career at 25 and now find myself almost 50 and not sure what I want to do with my life but maybe I’ll just watch one more episode of Bob’s Burger’s and eat another bowl of Greek yogurt and not really think about it today and dust off my book proposal tomorrow instead”. Nope, not much of that happened in the little house. You think you’re falling asleep earlier and earlier each year? Try watching Veep by candlelight, you’ll never make it through season one.