In my childhood, I read all of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books at least twice. In my adulthood, I was able to visit her home in DeSmet, South Dakota, and saw the surveyor’s house where she and her family lived in On the Shores of Silver Lake. Amazingly, the five Ingalls and several railroad surveyors all squished themselves into a structure with fewer square feet than the closet in my master bedroom.
The book that’s been on my mind since November has been The Long Winter. At the beginning of the book, Pa goes to town one September day. While he’s at the general store, an elderly Native American man warns the settlers of a tough winter ahead, one that comes around every twenty years. “Old! Old! I have seen!” he states before riding out of town. When October rolls around, that part of South Dakota gets its butt kicked by a blizzard. The settlers don’t catch a break until late April or early May. Most of them survive, though.
Today in modern times on the edge of the farmland between Chicago and DeKalb, it is February 27, and we are looking at a single digit high today. Tomorrow will be a more respectable 27 or so, but still below average. Oh, and before I forget, we’re supposed to get even more snow over the weekend. Yippee freakin’ skippee.
Unlike Ma Ingalls, however, I can make a run to the store tomorrow. Their February meals are the meals of desperation and survival: beans boiled with salt pork; cornbread consisting of little more than cornmeal, salt, and water. There was one scene where Pa considered butchering their dairy cow, but fate intervened and one of their neighbors did so with a steer.
At least they had tea and Pa played his fiddle.
I hope that partially drowned out the wind. Around here, it’s been roaring like a wounded animal. I have the radio and TV that mask it, partially, anyway. The heat is pretty reliable, unless we have a power outage.
So with basic needs met in a downright decadent manner in comparison to the Ingalls’, we soldier on, hoping this breaks before May.
First person kvetching about the heat gets fifteen minutes on the naughty step.