Laura Ingalls Wilder was one of my first favorite artists. I still have the whole set of "Little House on the Prairie" books as a set. They were given to me as a Christmas present when I was around 8 I would guess. (I'm guessing about the age, I know it was a Christmas present because I remember finding them before Christmas in my mother's closet and thinking that for sure she wouldn't be able to give them to me now because she would know that I had been naughty. I didn't tell her that I knew about them until after Christmas.)
I've been reading Little House on the Prairie on and off with Naomi in the evenings. There is so much that is just totally foreign to her - farming, log houses, heat only from one stove. The other day I was between books so I picked up my old copy of Farmer Boy to read for a few minutes while my stomach settled down.
In the book I found several lovely surprises. The first was this awesome inscription inside the front cover. I don't remember Rick or Ron, but I must have felt very strongly about them at some point. And why I felt I needed to draw a library check-out card thingy in the front I don't know. A picture of my feelings as an 8 - 10 year old I guess.
The second surprise was a little more sweet: A perfectly preserved flower/weed. You can see the tiny red flower among the much greenery. I love it. I want to frame it. I reminds me of life in the wild woods of Washington State every day after school. Of laying in the grass or the ferns reading. Of free Summers. Of a wonderful phase of my life.
And I find myself wanting to replicate that feeling for my children. When will my children be able to be so free? Even if we lived in the same house in Washington right now, I don't think I could let them run free the way I did as a child. So I must find other ways for them to be free. Other places and ways for my angsty, love-hating, 8 - 10 year old's to be free and independent.
And I'm sure they'll read other books more than Laura Ingalls Wilder. Harry Potter and such. But the point is that they READ. And love it. And learn from it the way I did. And feel the exhilaration of living for a moment in a totally different place and time.
That's a freedom they can have even in our living room in urban Virginia.