Wednesday Dawg and I drove through Missouri on Route 66. It was a gorgeous, gorgeous drive. There were sweet little towns with murals (can you spot Dawg?)
and barbeque joints (it was fantastic),
and historic sites.
I didn’t have any concept, really, of what Missouri would look like; I had ideas about Route 66 and all it might entail, but I hadn’t really processed that I’d be driving through so much beautiful landscape. When I saw a sign telling me I was in Ozark country, I had a Laura Ingalls Wilder moment, and tried to imagine what it would have been like coming through this territory in a covered wagon. I decided it would be amazing, and also miserably hard, and I thought all morning about the scene from the books when Ma was so busy packing up the camp for the morning to get on the trail that she accidentally put the wrong ribbons in Mary and Laura’s hair. The giggled all day long down the trail about how one braid had blue, and one braid had pink, and it was the craziest thing that had happened to them at that point. How innocent, and how sweet, and what a different world.
I pulled over and looked up “Laura Ingalls Wilder, Ozarks” just to see if anything came up. It did.
This is the farmhouse Laura and Almanzo built, and where they lived for thirty-five years, and raised their daughter, and where she wrote all of her books.
It’s perfect. To the right of the porch is a wraparound window with a built-in seat, and she’d sit there and watch the seasons change when she wasn’t sewing quilts and tending the farm and making jam and changing children’s literature. She was tiny, 4′ 11″, and everything inside is just as she left it: simple, and sweet.
The only thing I wanted to be more than Clara from the Nutcracker, as a little girl, was Laura Ingalls Wilder, riding in the bed of a wagon across the Ozarks as her little dog Jack trotted along behind them on the prairie. When she wasn’t busy pioneering, she was stomping around in creeks, and bickering with her sisters, and listening to fiddle music, and studying hard, and being a schoolteacher, and riding in sleighs with her farmer boyfriend. It sounds like a hardworking life, but a sweet one, too.
Dawg and I thought it was pretty great, sitting down below the house and looking back up at all of those memories. They were hers, of course, but she was kind enough to share them.
And then we took off for Oklahoma.