(In this post I expose my extreme geekiness over the Little House on the Prairie Books. You have been forewarned.)
I came home last week, plopped into my chair and despaired that my life is a constant round of circles.
Housework, writing work, errands. Housework, writing work, errands.
Then I smiled, pictured my life like those teams of horses with plows and scrapers grading the land for the railroad.
What? That isn’t the first picture that springs to your mind? You don’t see Pa and Laura standing on a hilltop, hand in hand, Pa explaining how the teams work together to prepare the way for the coming railroad? (Chapter 10 “Wonderful Afternoon” in By the Shores of Silver Lake)
Actually, the thought of the scene settled me. As I remembered that moment from Laura’s life (then went back and re-read it), I took great comfort in those circles. Each man and team of horses playing a part. Without hurry. Without lethargy. Over and over and over again. Paving the way for progress.
“The all went on, steadily and evenly, circling into the cut and out while the plows went back and forth, and circling under the dump and back over the end to the fill and under the dump again.” (p.103)
I remembered that watching those circles settled Laura, because while they were the same circles of activity, they were different than the ones she had despaired of at the beginning of the chapter. How her days were always the same. An unending round of washing, ironing, mending, and milking. She came home and told Mary all about it. But Mary didn’t understand.
“I really don’t know, Laura, why you’d rather watch those rough men working in the dirt than stay here in the nice clean shanty. I’ve finished another quilt patch while you’ve been idling.”
But Laura was still seeing the movement of the men and horses in such perfect time that she could almost sing the tune to which they moved.
Sometimes I just need a change of scenery to remember that my “circles” have a rhythm and a beauty I sometimes lose sight of. They prepare the land for all that God has called my husband and children to do. And me, too. They are necessary, even if a bit monotonous. And while I can’t always stop my life and have my own “Wonderful Afternoon” to gain that perspective, I’m glad I have Laura Ingalls Wilders’ pictures in my head from all those re-readings of her books to let me relive her wonderful afternoon with her.