I loved Little House on the Prairie when I was a kid, so reading Wendy McClure’s book, The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie was like catching up with dear friends. In fact I was reminded how much LHOP played a role in my own life as I remembered along with Wendy about bonnets, Plum Creek, the sod house, and above all the spunky, carefree, adventurous spirit that was Laura.
“MOST GIRLS JUST WANT TO BE LAURA”
I did too. I admired Laura’s pluck, her spunk, her spirit. Once when someone commented that I looked like the Mary from the television show, I actually felt insulted. Okay so my hair was blonde and I was the oldest of four siblings, but i did not want to be the bossy, know-it-all (although that characteristic probably fit too). I just wanted to be carefree and adventurous, like Laura.
But I felt a kinship with both girls for many reasons. After all, I knew what it was like to share a bed with your sister, and to move a lot (my dad was in the Coast Guard). Plus, I think we were the last family to buy a color TV (1984!!). We were practically a frontier family.
“SWEET AND SIMPLE HAD BECOME OUR OWN DREAM FRONTIER”
I think the best thing I learned from LHOP was that the simplest things make us happy, like those jars of penny candy in the Olson’s store, or a retweet or a yummy grilled cheese sandwich (even if nowadays it has to be gluten and dairy free). Even seeing a pile of freshly picked cucumbers from our tiny garden gives me some sort of odd, geeky, perhaps prairie thrill. But it’s the stressful times that really bring out “my bad, prairie self”, because that’s when I find myself longing to burrow deep into some mythical cabin in the woods. My sister E and I call this my Grizzly Woman status (she even gifted me a grizzly bear keychain).
The good thing is you don’t have to go all the way to Walnut Grove to experience LHOP nostalgia. All you need is a little connection, like reading Wendy’s book or re-reading the LHOP series. Because of course we always carry the power to go home within ourselves, right? Like Glinda the Good Witch said (to another girl from a Midwestern prairie), “You’ve always had the power to go back . . .”
It’s as simple as clicking your (bare foot) heels.