Monday, March 19, 2018

Little House on the Prairie - again - by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House on the Prairie
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Published 1935

When I last wrote on this blog about Little House, I expressed a feeling of great anxiety. Besides the perils of traveling, crossing frozen ice and raging rivers, and almost losing the family guard dog - once the Ingalls family found a place to settle - it was one difficulty after another: Ma's sprained ankle, surprise Indian visits, Indian theft, packs of wolves, screaming panthers, chimney fires, mysterious prairie fires that nearly struck their home, an incapacitating family illness, and an Indian war council that almost ended in a massacre.

Finally, after an entire year of these misadventures, the U.S. government threatened to remove settlers from the land if they did not leave on their own, as they were a few miles over the border into Indian Territory (even though the Indians had already moved West).

So this time I soaked in Laura's beautiful descriptions of the prairie and the flowers and the wildlife.

One of my favorite passages that I copied into my commonplace journal was this:
The prairie looked as if no human eye had ever seen it before. Only the tall wild grass covered the endless empty land and a great empty sky arched over it. Far away the sun's edge touched the rim of the earth. The sun was enormous and it was throbbing and pulsing with light. All around the sky's edge ran a pale pink glow, and above the pink was yellow, and above that blue. Above the blue the sky was no color at all. Purple shadows were gathering over the land, and the wind was mourning. 
And this:
All along the road the wild larkspur was blossoming pink and blue and white, birds balanced on yellow plumes of goldenrod, and butterflies were fluttering.  Starry daisies lighted the shadows under trees, squirrels chattered on branches overhead, white-tailed rabbits hopped along the road, and snakes wriggled quickly across it when they heard the wagon coming.
Laura was a master of aesthetic descriptions of the natural environment, as well as expressions of deep human emotions and thought, particularly her own. She was not ashamed to share her deepest thoughts, no matter how raw or naughty. 

I look forward to reading the next books in The Little House series (again) because Laura's stories only mature and her descriptions of nature flourish, especially as she becomes the eyes for her sister Mary, who later loses her eyesight.

The prairie near the Little House replica in Independence, Kansas.

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