When I was in 7th grade and newly transplanted in Peoria, IL from Stuttgart, Germany, I spent hours losing myself in the world of the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her books were my constant companions. They helped me to drown away my pre-teen angst and homesickness for Germany. I particularly loved, These Happy Golden Years. I loved it so much I wrote an inscription in it to myself. One day a classmates grabbed These Happy Golden Years from my desk in Mrs. Schmidt’s English class, flipped it open and laughed at my inscription when she read it out loud: This book will be my favorite book always. I was mortified.
Laura Ingalls Wilder lives in a special place in my heart. Her stories carried me away to another place in time, and away from sadness. She let me know through her mean-spirited character, Nellie Oleson that I wasn’t the only girl in the world who got taunted at school. In her books I learned about overcoming hardships, kindness, forgiveness, friendship and love.
Today was a happy day for me – stormy weather and speeding ticket on Minnesota County 5 aside. I got to drive through deserted country roads winding through prairies with big sky and river valley’s, plunk my foot in Plum Creek near the site where the Ingalls family lived in their dugout, experience hundreds of
grasshoppers jumping up at my legs as I walked through prairie grass giving me a sense of what a grasshopper invasion “might” have felt like to Laura and her family, and tour a museum dedicated to one of my favorite authors, who published her first book at the age of 65. Even at my young age of 53, Laura Ingalls Wilder is still giving me hope that I too will someday author a memoir.