Recently, with the storms roaring across the Midwest and North Coast, we suffered a two day power outage. Nothing compared to those who had total devastation from tornadoes, but enough to make me reflective of the tremendous fortitude of the forefathers and homesteaders of this country. Now that we are on our farm, power outage has a whole new meaning - no well, no water, no flushing…you get the idea. And, I might add, that when bad weather comes a' calling, there is an innate, sixth sense that all husbands possess, because, inevitably, they are on the way out of Dodge as these storms roll in. But, I digress.
When Lizzie was an infant, her pediatrician wisely advised us to read to her every night, even before she could comprehend the words. So to keep myself from going crazy on story books, I started reading her Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Over the last 10 years, Lizzie and I have spent many night sharing in the adventures, marvelous simplicity and joy of their journey across America. I think it might have been the impetus to our recent mid-life purchase of our farm, Hemlock Lane at Valley High. Lizzie is a confirmed prairie girl (as long as she can wear her Northface jacket and Uggs). Derek and I take great joy in having all of our animals on the property, under our watch. We love hitching those marvelous Percherons and imagining what it must have been like traveling across the United States in a covered wagon.
However, when faced with challenges to maintain our home, property and animals this week, with no water and little daylight after work, I really reflected on how grueling an effort the Pilgrim's and Pioneer's efforts were. They simply wanted to live freely without persecution and own and farm their own land to make a better life for the next generation, but it wasn't easy. When we recently took Lizzie to Jamestown, Virginia to see the first colony, we spent time on the boats that brought those first adventurers over to the States.
Personally, I only have a small near trans-Pacific crossing to relate to: Green with sea sickness, I nearly cast myself off a whale watching boat in San Francisco, 40 miles out in the middle of the Pacific (I'll save that story for another blog) but once I heard of the food chain in the water under us, I thought better of it. You know - Great White Sharks, Killer Whales, etc… But can you imagine being stuffed on a wooden boat with no amenities, no fresh food and no idea how long you would have to endure the elements. And, no, there certainly was no Coast Guard coming to rescue them when the going got tough. It wasn't much better when they arrived as they faced a long, cold winter, no ready shelter and then contracted illnesses in a weakened condition.
There hadn't been that much progress by the time Laura Ingalls Wilder's family set off from Wisconsin in search of farming country. No GPS to send those wagon trains over the mountain ranges. No antibiotics when cholera and scarlet fever came knocking. No way to take the chill off after battling a blizzard all day while trying to keep the farm animals safe or walk to school. And no defense of the storms and plaques that wiped out more than one crop throughout the years. Yet, they all persisted, with much joy and little complaints through the years as they paved the way for our modern America as we now know it.
So, I know I grumbled as I was hauling gallon jugs out to all of the animals to keep them hydrated and I was cleaning stalls in the dark. Thankfully, Lizzie and I could take refuge with someone who did have power and we slept warmly, safe and sound.
As we rush through the hustle and bustle of the start of a new holiday season full of promise, magic and wonder - let's take a moment to remember those Pilgrims and Pioneers who had the courage, endurance and resilience to help carve out a democracy and modern world that we now enjoy.