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lunedì, dicembre 09, 2013

Little House in the Big Woods


Little House in the Big Woods is the first book of the real true stories of harding work lived by Laura Ingalss Wilder (the author of this serie) and her family and named Little House (www.littlehousebooks.com) , de facto one of the most important American children's classic books and later tv serie, very loved by everyone. I remembered I loved that fiction as well and it was great to seeing it when I was a kid.

This one was anyway, the first time I read a book of this serie. I found it in a book-stall and I decided to try it. It's beautiful. I suggest it to everyone because it's a very good and lovely book and the real stories and anedocts told in every chapter will introduce you to Laura's reality.

This book tells the story of Laura, her sister Mary, and ma and pa, as the parents were called by them.

In this first book the family is still living in the big woods of Wisconsin. The author remembers: "There were no houses. There were no roads. There were no people. There were only trees and the wild animals who had their homes among them".

Many were the animals populated the big woods. Laura could see with a certain simplicity bears, very big wild cats, but wolves and deer to.

Of course most of these wild animals were hunted by Laura's pa. Meat played constanly a very important voice in Laura's family's daily diet's voice. What I didn't know and it was in a certain way shocking, was to discovering that bears are not "just" killed because of their furs (I thought that the reason was just this one), but also because of their meat. And I was so sad for it.

The first chapter focuses about the conservation of meat during the cold winter. And it is interesting, because venison or deer, passing throught the meat pig, the procedure is the old one known by our parents and grand-parents.

Laura's family had this weekly schedule for home works: 'Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuersday, Mend on Wednesday, Churn on Thuersday, Clean on Friday, Bake on Saturday, Rst on Sunday".

The author specifies: "Laura liked the churning and the baking days best of all the week".

Butter was homemade and Laura's mom loved to add a color to it during the wintertime: a yellow one.

The prochedure wasn't all that difficult: the yellow color was in fact obtained by  a grated carrot put later "in a little pan pf milk on the stove and when the milk was hot she poured milk and carrot into a cloth bag. Then she squeezed the bright yellow milk into the churn, where it colored all the cream. Now the butter would be yellow".

Laura and Mary's pa loved to tell to them many stories, in particular at the end of the day, when after dinner they rested for a while before to going to sleep. I admit that all of them are suggestive.

Laura often complained because of her hair, brown and not blonde like the ones of her sister, but maybe that one hasn't been the only "gift" (Not a color particularly loved by the little Laura)  that her dad had presented to her, but also a big capacity of story-telling as we can see reading with great joy this book.

The creation of always new bullets for the next's day hunting Laura tells in the book was "Every evening before he began to tell stories".

Pa told always to Laura and Mary of not touching new bullets because they would have burned heir fingers. They also new the rules: if they would have touched a too much hot bullet burning their fingers they would have just "put the fingers in their mouths to cool them".

Christmas was the most joyous period of the year. When uncle Peter and aunt Eliza with the cousins joined them for the festivities.

Laura describes it very vividly: "Laura and Mary heard the gay ringing of sleight bells, growing liuder very moment,  and then the big bob sled came out of the wood and drove up to the gate. Aunt Eliza and uncle Peter and the cousins were in it, all covered up under blankets and robes and buffalo skins".

Laura and Mary enjoyed the company of other children and the played all the day outdoors in the snow making pictures.

That Christmas in her stocking Laura found also a beautiful doll.

I found very interesting to discover how men  captured if I can use this expression, maple syrup from that trees. Stunning and at that time pretty tiring.

Pa explained to Laura this one day she joined him at work: "The sap is the blood of a tree. It comes up from the roots, when warm weather beings in the spring, and it goes to the very tip of each brand and twig, to make the green leaves grow. When the maple sap came to the hole in the tree, it ran out of the tree, down the little trough, and into the bucket".

Then a big iron kettle was hanged by a chain between two trees and there hard work again, the syrup transformed in brown maple sugar later.

Once in their house there was a dancing feat, very common in the past and not only in the Usa.

It was a big event Laura remembers with great joy and happiness like also the big emotions of visiting for the first time in her life the town where her dad loved to go sometimes.

Laura was so pleasantly positively shocked of visiting the local store.

It's back an old sentiment of not self-acceptance when the storekeeper said to Laura's parents: "That's a pretty little girl you've got there" just admiring Mary's beautiful blonde hair. Laura thinks again that her hair are just: "Ugly and brown".

I would be curious to discover why Laura was so fixated with this story of her hair and why to her it would be so important to be like Mary. I am asking to myself if for case  someone complained while she was very little about her hair. Not of the same color of her sister, putting on her head strange ideas of "difference" or a sensation of ugliness. Because, with very great difficulty children can't accept themselves if parents and relatives do. They're not yet adults.

Summer-time is the best moment for enjoying outdoor games. New neighbors the Peterson newly arrived would have meant new company for all of them. Children and adults.

Of course summer means much more work. Cheese, weeding the garden, and the hard work in the field of Laura and Mary's pa. So no stories to be told at the end of a day.

Reading the passionate Little House in the Big Woods will mean to the readers reading the cycle of life of  family  in a very rural American countryside, or Wood!  Works, and feasts, and passions and love, joy, baking, food, nature, animals.

Do that! You will feel much better later.

Anna Maria Polidori



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