I read The Long Winter to my six-year-old when I was pregnant with my second daughter, lying down at 4 in the afternoon, too tired for anything else but reading. She was entranced — although not enamored. Twist hay into fuel? Grim.
Like so many kids, I loved those books, with the childhood stories of vanity cakes and rag dolls, the excitement of Christmas ponies and a family who lived in a dugout. I’m reading Caroline Fraser’s Prairie Fires — the adult story around the Wilder family revealed as loss, loss, loss…. How glad I am for our warm house, the morning sunlight in our kitchen with the cats sleeping at my feet. We’re on the far side of winter today.
15 degrees today, with brilliant sunlight: I flung open the doors and windows, whooshing out the winter air in our house, throwing blankets over the porch railings and leaning over the snowbanks, listening to robins.
Here’s illustrator Garth Williams:
(Laura Ingalls Wilder) was never overcome by drabness or squalor. She never glamorized anything; yet she saw the loveliness in everything.
— Prairie Fires, by Caroline Fraser