Laura’s Bible: Psalm 121

April 27, 2008

Laura Ingalls Wilder fans who have been to a homesite gift shop have seen for sale a list of Bible verses Laura referenced for specific times in her life. Mine came from the gift shop of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in De Smet.

I thought of Laura’s verses today while sitting, fittingly, in church. Though I wasn’t so much sitting as I was following my three-year-old around the pews. No matter, I was still paying attention. And something in the pastor’s words reminded me of Laura’s verses. So when I got home, I dug them out.

There they were, in Laura’s unmistakable, grandmotherly handwriting.

Not being a terribly religious sort, I’ve sort of grown into the idea that spiritual beliefs are a good thing. I like the idea of an order to the world and to my heart. I’m also not much of a Biblical scholar, but the older I get the more I am aware of just how much I don’t understand. More than that, I’m aware of not making the effort to try to understand.

To someone like me, the Bible is intimidating. But I’m plucky. I like challenges. I think I might take a verse she recommends periodically and explore it, to see what spiritual insight I can gain from one of my heroes.

I’ve spent the past few days googling and plugging in dates and emailing, planning some rather extensive travel in the month of June. So let’s start with this one:

“When you travel,” Laura writes, “carry with you 121 Psalm.”

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
From whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord,
Which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved;
He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, He that keepeth Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep
The Lord is thy keeper:
The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil:
He shall preserve thy soul.
The lord shall perserve thy going out and thy coming in
From this time forth, and even for evermore.

Did Laura pull this out to read on the train to San Francisco? Did she carry it when she returned to De Smet in 1902 to see Pa before he died? What about merely hopping over to Springfield? Driving around Missouri with the Seals?

Most importantly: did she have it with her when she stepped into that airplane?

One can imagine that travel to someone from Laura’s time was no idle matter. Traveling simply to the next state could take days. The fact that she, who treasured her family, hardly ever went back to visit her mother and sisters once she moved to Missouri speaks volumes. Even when she visited her daughter in San Francisco, Rose paid her the money she’d lose simply by being away from the farm. It makes sense that an undercurrent of concern would taint embarking on any trip, no matter how joyful the occasion.

The lord shall perserve thy going out and thy coming in
From this time forth, and even for evermore.

I kind of like the sound of that.


Cute story

April 19, 2008

What happens when a California newspaper reporter tries to track down the TV crush of his childhood — Melissa Sue Anderson, aka Mary Ingalls — 34 years later?


Laura and Planes

April 14, 2008

Yesterday I was on a plane. A tiny plane. The kind where you have to walk out onto the windy tarmac and up the steps past the cockpit to the back of the plane, where the seat choices range between “the one on the right” and “the one on the left.” The seats in the very back row run together, a set of three, like a bus or a minivan. I was tempted to head for them and sit in the “cool seats.”

Boarding this plane in Missouri, I couldn’t help but think of Laura. The plane she’d ridden in as a senior citizen, with Rose, probably wasn’t much smaller than this plane. I explored my own trepidation at the plane’s tiny size and wondered what her attitude had been. Had she been terrified? Had she been filled with excitement? Had Rose pushed her into it?

And this, of course, makes me think of the “other” Laura Ingalls — the one all of us have accidentally run across while googling — the famous aviator who broke all kinds of records, including her own, and died the same year as Rose Wilder Lane.

On the previous flight, before I boarded the miniscule plane to take me to my final destination, my seatmate was a lovely older woman born and raised in New York City. An artist, a poet, and a writer, married to a sculptor. I listened to tales of her long and wonderful life as a New Yorker. She thoroughly delighted me, and I in turn delighted her, telling her about Laura and, more specifically, Rose. There’s always a new member of the audience when it comes to Laura. There’s simply so much to tell.


Coming To A Town Near … Me!

April 7, 2008

One of the more unfortunate things about living in the middle of nowhere, as I do, is that not much happens here. For a girl born and bred in Boston, it’s a tough thing to get used to. That’s why we travel a lot.

And that’s also why at the moment, I can’t believe my good fortune. This month our local community concert association is bringing Riders in the Sky to perform. Right to my town.

Dale Cockrell’s Pa’s Fiddle Recordings is two albums into what I’ve been told will be a full set of performances of songs mentioned in the Little House series. On the first, Happy Land, a “greatest hits” of sorts, Riders in the Sky performed “The Blue Juniata” and “Captain Jinks” (incidentally, one of my daughter’s favorite songs — and she hasn’t yet read the series). On the follow-up, Arkansas Traveler, featuring songs from Little House on the Prairie, they reprise The Blue Juniata and perform the title track as well.

My own Little House concert! I’ll let you know when I’m going; be sure to check back here for a report.


April 6, 2008

If you’re like me, the essence of the Little House series is tattooed onto your subconscious. Incidents or event in my life can — and do — effortlessly call a specific book or chapter to mind. I’d say it happens to me almost daily,  where a single word or phrase sends me catapulting into the middle of Plum Creek or The Long Winter before I even realize it.

Today that word was “manage.”

“There you have it, Laura!” Pa exclaimed in These Happy Golden Years when Laura was lamenting her lack of success motivating her students, particularly Clarence. “It’s all in that word, ‘manage.'”

It had been a long day in my household. I was home with my five-year-old and my three-year-old, their Dad was out at work, and the wind made it impossible to go outside. (That Kansan wind can blow.) As each of my kids went into their third time-out of the day, I sat down and rethought my strategy. This wasn’t working. Perpetual punishment wasn’t the answer. I wasn’t doing this right. I wasn’t managing.

We parents have to manage. There’s no other option. We’re their parents. It’s our job to be smarter and more clever than our children. We have to be three steps ahead of them, anticipating when a distraction is needed and steering them where they should go without them even being aware of it. We can’t give up on it — no one else is going to improve us as parents. We must do it ourselves, learning as we go. We have to just manage.

As I set each kid in a competiton to see who could clean more spots off the refrigerator, I sat back for the briefest of moments and considered my handiwork.

“There!” I thought. “That’s one thing managed.”

Landscaping at Mansfield

April 5, 2008

Looks like the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum (aka Rocky Ridge) in Mansfield, Missouri has gotten a facelift. According to this page, one of the largest landscape architects in the area had Rocky Ridge as a recent client. I wonder if it’s just the new “Path to Home” running between the farmhouse and the Rock House?

Which, it must be said, I still have to see.

(For a review of the “Laura’s Pathway to Home” DVD from a better-traveled fan than I, see the Summer 2006 issue of the Homesteader.)

A Review of Rose’s Libertarian Manifesto

April 3, 2008

Still contemplating whether to read The Discovery of Freedom, Rose Wilder Lane’s manifesto that came to serve as a handbook for libertarianism? (Recall that Roger Lea MacBride was the Libertarian presidential candidate in 1976.)

Here’s a review.

According to William Holtz in Ghost in the Little House, Rose was working on a “perennial” revision of The Discovery of Freedom in her final years. She never completed it.

Confession: The book is on my shelf; I can see it from where I sit right now. But I haven’t braved opening it yet.