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Monday, May 12, 2014

Laura Ingalls Wilder Re-Wind: Repurposing Laura


About three months ago, after finally 'coming out' of the prairie water closet, so to speak, about my love for the values, history and writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I started work on a large writing project myself.

It involves a little history, a little research, and a whole lot of figuring out how pieces go together.  It's complicated, convoluted, sometimes frustrating and ALWAYS interesting.

In short, I'm in heaven.
One day, I was deeply entrenched in a section of writing. . .surrounded by piles of notes and reference books and random related materials. . .and it suddenly dawned on me:  Laura isn't who she used to be.

Not to me, anyway.

And I'm not sure when or how that happened.

When I first met her, she was a friend.  Someone I instantly felt connected to.  We liked the same things, felt the same feelings, enjoyed the same games and dreams. She was a precious playmate to whom I could run to whenever I needed her.

Tucked safely there between the pages, her adventuresome spirit, tomboyishness, and comfortable sense of self and value were a balm and encouragement to my own often battered spirit.

I don't know how I would have made it through my childhood without Laura and Ma and the rest.

As I grew, she did, too.  A young lady with skirts to the ground and her hair put up, she eased out of childhood and slipped into young adulthood without me noticing.  Somehow, I did that, too.

My thoughts moved from playing with pig's bladders and boys with steel toed boots to my future and how I was going to get there.

Laura stopped being my playmate and became my companion.  Leading by example, she encouraged me to strike out on my own, face my own fears and sense of inadequacies and take life as it came.  Her work ethic and sense of responsibility sobered my youthful nonchalance and encouraged me toward sensible decisions. . .without losing my sense of fun.

We parted ways there for awhile. . .drifting in different directions as my life with a husband, a passel of kids and way too much to do got in the way a bit.  I missed her, but didn't really have time to visit.

But she's been on my mind again lately.  And at first, I didn't understand why.

It's because we've met again, all these years later, on the self same road.  Not in the yard of the Little House in the Big Woods, nor by the Shores of Silver Lake.  We're not hunkered down together in the Long Winter, nor reveling in These Happy Golden Years.

No, we're past all that, now. . .but companions all the same.  This time, though, it's not our youth or circumstance that joins us.  It's writing.

And again, my dear, long time friend encourages me. . .to write what I know and what I love.  To feel free to explore what matters to me most, whether or not anyone else cares to read it.  She reminds me that it's never too late to pick up a pen and begin, or to change directions when the road gets muddy.

And so I write. . .alone with my laptop and my thoughts.  And yet, not.

She's here, too.

And I am so grateful.

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