Monday, November 19, 2012

How Did Pa and Laura Do It?

I feel very fortunate to have a working fireplace in our rental here.  As an adult I haven't lived in a house with a fireplace and it takes me back to my childhood.  Our fireplace was in the den of our house in Toronto and I spent many a Sunday night in front of it watching the flames dance and the cinders pop.  

My dad had come up with a way to use our old newspapers which I have always thought was unique, but maybe that's what everyone did in to late 1960s.  He would save our newpapers throughout the week and then we would roll them into "logs" and secure them with old electrical wire.  Don't ask me why we used old electrical wire, that's just what I remember.  These newspaper logs supplemented whatever wooden logs we had to burn - again, I don't even know where THOSE came from, but remember I was just a kid...

Fast forward to present day.
I was sitting in front of the fireplace tonight, in our rental, and reflecting on my Sunday fires as a child and then further reflecting on a beloved literary and television series.

I watched "Little House on the Prairie"  on TV growing up, 

but it wasn't until my daughter, The Maven was around and old enough to read/reflect on what was read to her that I really understood, to some extent, what those brave prairie folk went through.

As I sat there tonight watching the logs burn, I remembered reading "The Long Winter" with The Maven.  Pa and Laura would twist straw day and night to feed the fire that not only kept them warm, but was the source by which they cooked.

How much straw they must have twisted day after day.  I watched our logs burn quite quickly in the dry air and can only imagine how quickly that twisted straw burned.

So, I start my week with more than my fair share of things to be thankful for:

I don't have to depend on fire for my heat and cooking.
I'm living in a pretty nice house with all the bells and whistles compared to Laura.
I don't have to twist straw to be warm or cook a meal.
I have the warm memory of those fires in my father's den on Sunday nights.
I have another warm memory of sharing The Little House series with my daughter, both the books and the television show via reruns. (She just asked me today - "how did I see that television show while we were reading those books when you had already seen that show when you were growing up?")
Ah, the magic of tv and thank goodness for the sense of some television executives to save and then broadcast a quality television show for the next few generations to learn from and also enjoy.

I am most thankful for the love of my family and for the many friends I left behind when we moved.  They are all still very close in our hearts everyday.  

Call me a throw back, if you must.
You go, Half-Pint!


Corn in my Coffee-Pot said...

I only read "Little House on the Praire" when I was a girl. It wasn't until summer 2011, that I read the series, as an adult. Like you...I wondered, how in the world they did it.
We heat our home with wood. It gets mighty drafty in here at times. Though not like the house in "The Long Winter". I've thought about that straw...just the other day, when I was putting together some 'firelogs' for starting a good hot fire.
I'm always thankful for those living history books. I've been reading lots of old books from 19 century-- they have some pretty handy ideas in them. We have so much to be thankful for--right now for me...turning on the faucet to get HOT a delight!
~ Happy Thanksgiving my friend!

shohshi said...

Amen. Thank you for a very lovely post. Wishing you and those you love a happy Thanksgiving.
hugs ~ jennifer

Dexter said...

I read the entire series when I was a child and it sure made me grateful for the conveniences of modern life. I have heat, hot water, electricity, and major appliances. What a great world!

Mango Momma

Mr. Connor said...

The " logs" were tied up with old telephone wire which your brothers "found" at construction sites. Used for many projects. There was also a firplace in the finished basement. Sure was nice having those fires in the fire place. As I mentioned yesterday " Little House" was filmed not to far from you. More adventures in the making, I am sure. Great story ~ THANKS

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories. God bless you all in your new home this Thanksgiving.

Razmataz said...

I LOVED LHOTP. I always thought I should have been born an old fashioned prairie or farm girl. But Hey, I'm not. We made a fire with a fake log in our firepit. Awful. Fumes, smoke, smelly. We doused it with water and need to find a bag of firewood here in Florida.

Wishing you a very lovely Thanksgiving week.

Vicki @ lifeinmyemptynest said...

Sitting by a fire and reading the little house books - now there is a cozy picture to remember :-)
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

centerofgravity said...

I'm glad that you are able to enjoy having a fireplace in your life again. Here I am in Orlando with two of them I never use. They are good for letting in the occasional owl though. :-)Maybe I'll get a bag of firewood from Publix and try the fireplace again.

I too loved reading The Little House books to my daughters and husband. It was a nightly ritual for us that we started on those long car trips when I would read to the kids in the car. They were quite amazed, when visiting the house their grandma grew up in Wisconsin this summer, to find out that their great grandparents had once lived in a log cabin. And that their great grandfather had cleared all of the woods that they lived in to create the farm Grandma grew up on. By the time my mother was born he had built a two story frame house for them to live in which is still standing. The first 4 children, of the ten, were born in the log cabin. We were very much reminded of The Little House in the Big Woods.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, dear friend. CG

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Keep in mind that Laura only barely touched on the difficulties that the family endured. There were many, many things that she didn't write about. But it is an Ingalls trait to never give up and look to the sunny side of the street. :)

PS. If that is your original book I heard your wonderful sister in law who would like it for Christmas. :)

Olive said...

Hi Ann, every time I bring wood from the hill in a wheel barrow down to the house I think of people who heated that way in the past. My mother lived like that when she was a child. LHOTP was beloved by me too. xo, olive

rottrover said...

I'm thankful for the promise of new friends! (We HAVE to get our fireplace working again!!)

Robin Larkspur said...

Ah, the memories you have stirred about Laura and her books, and family fireplaces growing up. My father rolled newspaper too, very tightly, never tied them up with anything. Many a night spent by the fire as a child. We have a wonderful fireplace now, and a wood-burning stove. One needs it here in upstate NY, near Lake Ontario where the north winds doth blow, and bring with them snow!!

Chatty Crone said...

I love half pint too. I used to watch all those shows. And my FIL used to burn everything - he had very little garbage! Sandie

Erika, Blair and crew said...

I feel like you are reading my mind! I am at that part in The Long Winter, I love rereading the books. I think I read them for the first time at 8 yrs old. I can not count the times I have read them since!

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams said...

I loved those books when I was a child, I remember they were my first "big girl" books I read. And we just adored the TV show, I still have great memories of it.

My Grandparents lived in the bush, they had a wood stove, outhouse, and hand water pump in the yard, we loved it when we were kids. But then again we thought it was fun when we woke up and the curtains were frozen to the windows...and the water in the tin pail in the kitchen was frozen over.


Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

How nice to have this fireplace.
That is an interesting story of your father rolling up the papers and using the used electrical wire...and that your brothers had found the wire in the construction sites, that being the reason for the use of the wire. :)
I loved the Little House book series. The stories appealed to my childish imagination, as I live on the prairie, and I wished I could live like this family. :)
Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

The Country Mouse said...

What a nice post, Ann! No LHOTP for me or my boys, but you've made me sorry we didn't read or watch. We definitely have spent our time making fires, however, on campouts or in the fire pit. So many hours sitting around the fire with good friends...wish you were here to do it again! Have a great Thanksgiving!

KarenSue Farash said...

I'm with the Country Mouse, we didn't read it here(you know my reading). I did watch a few of the shows, don't know why i didn't see more, it's right up my alley'
Girl Scouts was really my first time enjoying a fire(you were there). I do love my wood burning stove in MT.
Did you see what I got at the thrift?!!! I must blog it..
Happy Thanksgiving my dear friend..

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Lovely post and beautiful memories. I never watched Little House or read the books. The magic of TV is definitely amazing. We have a lot to be thankful for. I remember moving to CA 24 years ago and it was hard to leave my family and friends behind. ((HUGS))