Thursday, 18 August 2011

Little Town on the Prairie

I just realised, some of you may need a little crash-course in Laura-ology. You regret reading this now, don't you? OK, so if you've only ever seen the TV series, well... that'll do for now. The TV series was set in Walnut Grove, Minnesota (where we paddled), but filmed in California. It made out that Laura's family spent almost all of their time in Walnute Grove, whereas really they moved around... a lot. I'll spare you the full version, but they started out in Pepin, Wisconsin (where we saw the log cabin), moved to Kansas, back to Pepin, onto Walnut Grove, to Iowa, to Walnut Grove again, then to De Smet. They stayed in De Smet the longest. OK, that's enough teaching - time for recess.

Parlour. Not taken on the sly - I found it on the Internet.
De Smet is the setting for her last four books. As well as the homestead, where we camped, they had a house in the town. We went to look around the town on Sunday. As with the homestead, it is not hard to imagine how it must have looked in Laura's day. De Smet is pretty small and one of the roads through the town just peters out at the outskirts and turns into a dirt track across the prairie. Some of the buildings conneced with Laura have been moved to a central location, including the surveyor's house, where they spent their first winter in Dakota territory, the school Laura attended and the one she taught. Her family home is a block or so away. You have to have a tour to see inside them, which the Mouse and I signed up for. We both really enjoyed that and I learned lots that I didn't already know, which is always good. I was a bit disappointed that you couldn't take photographs inside the houses, especially as they have been restored faithfully and based on photographs taken by Laura's sister, Carrie. They even had a company in California make the parlour wallpaper to match the one in Carrie's photo.

Best friends for life.
On the tour, the Mouse met another eight year old girl, also dressed in apron and sun-bonnet. Now if there's one thing I'm starting to realise about eight year old girls it is that they are the best at making friends. Within minutes, Mouse and Prairie Girl were best friends. We even exchanged addresses and emails and promised to meet up. They live very close to the Pilgrims, so we reckon there's a good chance of that. Later we met them again at the homestead. The Mouse and TR showed them around and I taught Prairie Girl's younger brother to braid a rag rug.

Later that evening we made s'mores and then Mr Ruby and I watched the usual incredible thunderstorms.

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