Occasionally I return to a book, or a series of books that impacted me in the past. For the last few weeks it has been the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. It had been more than 20 years since I had read the 'Little House' series and what I discovered is that more than being sweet stories of an idyllic and forgotten age, they are acute recountings of daily life, survival, and ecology from an era all but erased by the industrial and technological revolutions.
The books describe an alien world in which hard work is inevitable, and the nature of that work is largely determined by season and weather. In winter there is the harvesting of ice, large blocks cut by hand from the lake and hauled home to be stored, packed tight with straw in an outside shed til summer. With the thaw comes sugaring as the sap begins to flow into the trees. In spring and summer, there is plowing and planting and the early harvest. In fall, there is the hunt.
I wonder what it means that we have given up the connection between the rhythm of our daily lives and the rhythm of the world around us, that we no longer take responsibility for providing for our own sustenance in any kind of tangible way. How and why, in less than 150 years, have we changed so much of how we live? Is it servicing us? Or has it just blinded us from our ability to be content and have gratitude for hard earned pleasures?
A fiddle, a rag doll, an evening by the fire. It could be so simple.