The Long Winter

I’ve been reading my children a book from “The Little House on the Prairie” series. Unfortunately, it’s a book titled “The Long Winter.” It is a cold book to read this time of year. This book is better a to read during the summer, when I don’t have to ponder what we are going to eat if the snow reaches the rooftops.

In The Long Winter, which I guess is the most based-on-fact of all the Little House books, Laura and family are stuck in town as blizzard after blizzard hits Iowa. Soon the trains can’t make it through and the town starts starving.

Thankfully, we don’t have snow up to the roof. If it does snow that much, the book might not help. In the book, they burn hay and grind wheat for a hearty bread. But we don’t have any hay. Or a fireplace. We have some wheat, but no grinder.

But necessity is the mother of invention. Ma and Pa complain at one point that their dependence on new technology makes them less self sufficient. And what is the new technology in 1880? Kerosene. Because of the kerosene lamp, they didn’t have a backup supply of candles. And when the train doesn’t come through, and the kerosene is gone, they are pitched into darkness.

Luckily, Pa comes up with a tin of axle grease, which they use to make a makeshift candle. This is one problem we won’t have though. My wife has enough candles to light up the whole town until spring time.

The book does make one think. What would you do if you didn’t have so much? Laura’s family does a bit of hunkering down during the storms, singing and reciting poetry to pass the time. But most of the time is spent working: making beds, sweeping floors, feeding animals, feeding themselves, twisting hay, and bringing in dry, frozen laundry off the line (when it isn’t covered in snow, of course).

Or, as is too often the case in the book, the wife and children huddle around the fire, waiting to see if the father of the house makes it home alive.

After hearing of their problems, it seems pretty insignificant to complain that the internet doesn’t go as fast as we want, or that we don’t have a wifi spot when we want it. It’s the simpler things in life that are more important. Like food. Thank goodness for that.

Thanks for reading!

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