1968: According to the caption in our family photo album, this is OUR HOMESTEAD. Not long after they got married (and before I was born), my parents bought a parcel of land near Belen, New Mexico (south ofÂ Albuquerque, where they met). They bought it at as an investment, with maybe the vague idea that they’d build on it some day if it was worth something.
(Note that the mountain is not included.)
Of course, when I was a kid in Chicago I always imagined that we’d wind up here and build a shanty or something. My parents did end up moving back to New Mexico in 2006, but they bought a place with running water and electricity and a hot tub in the backyard, because they’re no fun at all.
Apparently my dad still owns the land, and it still looks exactly like this.
1979: Our very own Long Winter in Oak Park, Illinois. I’m pretty sure the Blizzard of ’79 coincided with my Little House reading years. The snow in Chicago was so heavy that garage roofs began to collapse around the city.Â One night my dad had to go out on the roof of the front porch and shovel off those snowdriftsâ€”a feat that seemed at least as thrillingly treacherous as Cap and Almanzo’s seed wheat rescue.
I remember being disappointed that I couldn’t look out my bedroom window and see the snow at eye level the way Laura could.
1980 (?): You may have already read about how I was in a community theater production of A Christmas Carol and got to wear a bonnet. And a long dress. And a crocheted shawl.
This was pretty much the high point of my life, I think.
1981 (?): Here I am at my own version of Plum Creek, at a campground west of Chicago that we’d visit two or three times a year, mostly on holiday weekends. I fished (badly), waded, caught crayfish (or at least watched people catch them), and tragically lost swim toys to the current. If I could have done all of it while wearing a calico dress, I would have.
I also tried my damnedest to grow my hair long enough to braid.Â You might have been able to wrench a couple of pathetic pigtails out of that mess, but just barely. That’s the longest I’ve ever been able to grow it.
2009: But who needs good hair when you have a BONNET? I bought at this one the Little House on the Prairie Museum in Kansas and preened in the mirror of my motel room in Springfield, Missouri. The first of many bonnets I would buy, and many, many more dorky photos.
Also! Book review blogger extraordinaire The Girl from the Ghetto has posted a truly EPIC review and giveaway of The Wilder Life today, so if you want another chance to win a copy of the book before it officially launches a week from Thursday, GO ENTER.