Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Long Winter

So Nine and I are reading The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder together.

I've had to get a little proprietary with books with her. A year or so ago, we had started Chasing Vermeer, the first book of the series by Blue Balliet (which Cousin pointed us to -- thank you!) one evening. BioMom and I usually take turns, one putting Nine to bed while the other puts Big to bed.

As an aside, Big is usually slightly more difficult to put to bed and, well, let's just say that the reading material is somewhat less interesting. That is not to say that the one who gets Nine has won the lottery or anything, Big is a hoot to put to bed, it's just different, that's all.

So anyway, it was at least a day or so until I got back to her and Chasing Vermeer, only to find that she had bolted ahead without me and eighty or so pages later, the plot was now beyond my comprehension.

Now I make her piggy-swear that our books are OUR books.

So, we're reading The Long Winter together now.

I have only read parts of these books both in my own experience as a kid, and now, as Nine has dabbled in them (not consecutively) both in her own personal pursuit and through school requirements. So I had definitely not spent any real time with Ingalls Wilder as an author, nor had I really watched the show more than a little bit here and there as a kid.

Grandma and Grandpa had bought us tickets to see the Little House on the Prairie the musical a few weeks ago (their daughter -BioMom's eldest sister- was involved with a charity that linked a silent auction/dinner with the show, so we were a few intended beneficiaries of their generosity). Melissa Gilbert was playing Ma, so it was extra special for us.

And got me thinking, as I was watching the show and sort of beginning to nod off: What the hell is this about?

Then BioMom whispered into my ear: I bet if you haven't read these stories, that this wouldn't make much sense.

Not being from Minnesota, I tend to spend a bit more time hunkering down for what I perceive as the impending seven months that are about to descend on us. I have been known to put the lawn chairs in in September, purchase too many pairs of gloves, sweaters and snow pants, and tune up the snow blower a bit too eagerly.

There is something about the winter here that you have to wrap your head around.

Particularly among those who have just moved from Washington DC (I still perceive myself to have JUST moved from there despite the fact that it is coming on ten years that I have now resided in this hearty country).

Growing up in Nebraska, too, is a far cry from this. Even my own experiences in Willa Cather country, and seeing the Louis and Clark trail could not prepare me to spell prairie correctly on the first try or know the difference in the temperature based on the sound of snow cracking under my feet as BioMom does.

So, I thought, why not read A Long Winter?

So we started.

And I read this about Laura and Carrie tramping through the prairie to town:

At first it was fun. It was rather like going into the jungle-picture in Pa's big green book. Laura pushed ahead between the thick clumps of grass-stems that gave way rustling and closed again behind Carrie. The millions of coarse grass-stems and their slender long leaves were greeny-gold and golden-green in their own shade. The earth was crackled with dryness underfoot, but a faint smell of damp lay under the hot smell of the grass. Just above Laura's head the grass-tops swished int eh wind, but down at their roots was a stillness, broken only where Laura and Carrie went wading through it.

And then this:

Laura looked at Pa and she knew he was listening too. The silence was as terrible as cold is. It was stronger than any sound. It could stop the water's lapping and the thin, faint ringing in Laura's ears. The silence was no sound, no movement, no thing; that was its terror. Laura's heart jumped and jumped, trying to get away from it.

And fell in love with its brilliance.

When I announced, however, my desire to work my way through the books consecutively, Nine sighed audibly.

I did not know I was on my own until she handed me a new "our book": So B. It by Sarah Weeks that she got from the library.

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