It’s quiet. The Hubs is softly snoring, Neeko is curled on the sofa, and Gator has complete reign of my side of the bed in this adorable tiny cottage. I will move him over shortly.
I am sitting here in absolute awe of where I am. Standing on the deck overlooking the little pond that has developed a leak, I can glimpse the beautiful white house that was the home Laura and Almanzo built when they moved here to Mansfield. If I want to I can put on my shoes and walk there in short order. The promise of snakes has definitely stilled my desire to do that. There is very little I like less than snakes. Even if you promise me that they are harmless.
We’d had an unexpected visit from AT&T, strangely enough. We’d called about an issue they told us they are sending a new box, no mention of a technician. So we were a bit delayed heading out this morning. We’d planned to be here by noon, we got here a bit closer to 230. I’d hoped to get in a visit to Bakersville, but they closed at 4pm, by the time we’d gotten to our cabin and visited with the wonderful woman that owns this small piece of heaven on earth it was after 330.
I could not believe that I was gazing across the street at the last little house on the prairie. Right in front of me highlighted by the beautiful bright blue sky was “the house”. The very location that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote my all time favorite stories, where she ignited in me my love of the pioneer spirit, and the desire to do everything just as she did. I feel sad that children today aren’t as inspired and motivated to try those types of things. How many little girls will ever make a sampler, how many young women will know the sheer joy of creating the blankets for their beds or the rugs under their feet?
|Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum|
It seemed like so much work, but the value of that work was immeasurable. To care for your families basic needs without rushing to the local store. To grow the food that was needed, and to know that you were the one that was responsible for providing that sustenance. When I think about the young mothers that I know now, and when I drive through the city and see all those vacant lots. Why aren’t we using that space to grow gardens, to nourish our families? All you need are a few packets of seeds and a willingness and desire to succeed.
I can think of a million reasons why I love those books. But the part that always comes back to me, is that even when life wasn’t easy. Even when bombarded by tragedy, they didn’t just sit down and say “I can’t and I won’t”. To do so would have been certain death. They either would not have eaten, been clothed, or had a roof over their heads. Failure wasn’t an option.
Those are values and morals that I learned at a young age. And 40 years later, I can tell you I had chills admiring her quilts and hand made dresses. I was envious of the beauty and thrilled just the same. As those beautiful pieces were displayed right beside her first sampler. Of which not much remained.
To see all the bits of her life that were carried forward in her life and where they were mentioned in her books. A few times it took my breath away.
Tomorrow we will go back and explore a bit more deeply. We’d gotten there with only 30 minutes to spare. We will visit the houses and walk around what remains of the farm she lovingly called Rocky Ridge.
As we ate dinner tonight Hubs struck up a conversation with the folks at the table next to us. I simply do not know how I am going to break him of his shyness. The nice man sitting right beside me shared that he had known Laura. He’s a farmer that grew up in Mansfield, but moved out to Seymour. I could picture her walking into the town square with her wicker basket filled with eggs from her hens. He said she was simply a sweet country woman, that worked hard and never let life beat her up.
He looked hardened, soft spoken and weathered. You could tell he’d spent the majority of his life in the sun and elements. I loved the crinkles at the corners of his eyes, they highlighted the laughter in his eyes as he spoke. Ironically his wife looked like she had never stepped foot into the sunlight. It was like he’d done the bulk of the labor to insure that she never had to suffer through any of it.
We will also head into Ava. It sounds like a delightful little town. And there are some fabulous little Amish shops both to the east and west of where we are. We might wander around a few of them. Not so sure yet. We might just wander around here and hang out with the boys.
The cabin is small, but welcoming. In fact I think the whole thing will fit in my bedroom at home. And the color scheme is identical to my house. It’s perfect.
Saturday dawned way too early.
It wasn’t a very restful night, I usually share a king size bed with Hubs and the boys. The bed in here is a full, and Gator is not about to have to sleep without his mommy. I think I slept on about 6 inches of bed all night. But he felt safe and warm.
Hubs was outside with Neeko around 430 am and came back to ask me if I was awake, he wanted me to see the stars. They were breath taking. Far away from city lights they are so bright and beautiful. This sweet little area is so welcoming and fresh.
You can tell it’s been beaten up a bit, that the economy has left it far behind. More of the stores are closed than open and most of the buildings have for sale signs on them. The town library, was supposed to get money from the sale of her books. The royalties were supposed to revert to them after her daughter died. Sadly, a greedy man with a good lawyer managed to keep all of that money to himself and his heirs, even though there was no relation there. I am sure this little town would have benefited so much more from it.
We’ve met so many nice people, they are friendly, kind, generous. Yet all of them seem a bit leery. A bit suspicious of outsiders. I guess when you live in a town that has several famous people from it, tourists coming and going, it would make you a bit leary of strangers.
We planned to get an early start, but the woods and paths beckoned to us! We took the boys hiking along the paths through the woods, exploring and climbing. They were quite bare, but given it being such an early spring day, we weren't surprised and delighted in the beauty we found around us. The moss a bright early spring green, mushrooms and the random flowers popping up through the bleak browns, tired from their long winter slumber. The sun had risen and warmed our path by the time we returned to our little cabin in the woods.
We then decided to sit on the deck in the rising sun, watching it light the world to an increasingly bright glowing treat! The dogwoods glistened, the sun rising through the red buds had a breathtaking hazy pink glow, the reflection off the water glistening like magic. We spent two magical hours sipping hot coffee, drinking Bloody Mary's and eating a long drawn out breakfast. No where pressing to go, nothing we were in a hurry to do. Either we would get there or we wouldn't. It was after 11 am before we even managed to get ready to start the day.
We spent the next few hours wandering through both of Laura's homes and the museum. I was literally in heaven! To be able to see where she wrote, cooked and lived was such an incredible treat! Pretty sure that Hubs took tons of pictures of me looking like that 10 year old girl who loved reading her stories. The little bookworm of a girl that day dreamed about living that life. I am not so sure that little Laura would have felt nearly as lucky as I imagined her to be baking bread, helping make soap, mending and learning needlework and stitching. She sure inspired me all those years ago. And still today. I was so excited to find that all the patterns for the pillows and quilts throughout her home, where available. Copied from her own patterns so long ago. I now have 6 patterns that I feel pretty darn certain I will be finding time to make.
With books and postcards in hand, Hubs decided I really needed a coffee mug. Something to remind me of this incredible gift.
After the time spent at Rocky Ridge farm we were off to find the Amish restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner. Guess what... Amish restaurants don't show up on Google Maps. Seems that little issue about electricity and modern stuff, means they aren't going to have a full website.
So after touring some roads that we are pretty sure you don't go down after dark and expect to return, we resorted to calling the closest thing we had to a friend in the area. Our hostess at Mansfield Woods. We'd given up by that point and headed back. Deciding to walk our boys before trying again.
Armed with better directions and a bit more confidence we made our way to the most fabulous home cooked dinner outside of home! It was a strange mixture of styles and ideas. Stark and not stark, plain and not plain. Either way, it was incredible!
We sat up for hours playing rummy and having Jack'n Cokes and Bloody Mary's. Laughing, giggling, those games are a pretty fierce competition ya know!
As we drifted off to sleep in the late hours of night, we both were so relaxed. Both of us feeling if it didn't get better, it was going to be perfect as it was.
Sunday arrived just as bright and beautiful, but so darn cold! We didn't keep the boys out so long as we sat outside in the field drinking hot coffee and hoping they hurried. Breakfast was eaten inside also. We were in a bit more of a hurry on Sunday. Rain was threatening, we still wanted to go to the Pioneer Village and Baker Creek Seeds. And we still needed to check out, although when asked what time we needed to leave by we were told there was no rush, leave when we were ready.
That is so refreshing and amazing!
So after a quicker breakfast and shower, we walked out the door just as the rain arrived. Luckily we had two umbrellas and were not about to let it defeat us. In fact, it knew we were going to win I believe. As the rain slowed and then stopped almost as soon as we pulled in.
I found a stash of heirloom seeds I'd been wanting. Bought my daughters family some heirloom strawberries for their little garden patch, and wandered around seeing and day dreaming about everything! And feeling just a tad jealous of the wonderful family that not only owned such a magical place, but lived there also!
It was so bitter sweet to load up the car and get ready to head home. It was easy to promise our hostess a return trip soon. It was so amazing, the location, the cabin, the amenities, her personality and warmth, and the price was fabulous! Yep, we will definitely be back!
Heading home we simply had to make a detour. I knew my daughter would never believe that I was going to buy her fudge from Uranus... Oh yes we did!
A long weekend to follow childhood dreams was simply exactly what the doctor ordered... Home coming was ok. I wasn't too happy to have to deal with AT&T for a few hours, but I was glad to be home.
As I looked out the windows at the setting son, I realized that the view from my own deck was pretty darn similar. Maybe that was why I felt so peaceful there, or maybe it's why I feel that way here. It was a blessing. Time with Hubs. Walks, talks, giggles and laughs. Chasing dreams and reconnecting.
He's upstairs asleep now, but I wanted to get this finished...
Here's to answered dreams you didn't know you had!