I woke up realizing that today is kind of a big deal. We’ll be in De Smet, South Dakota in a little while. Readers of the Little House series will know that A LOT happened in De Smet.
Charles Ingalls makes his land claim in De Smet and proves up on it. Once they make it to De Smet, Charles and Caroline live out the rest of their lives here. (That is saying’ something for Pa, because he always had the itch to go further West).
Laura really grows up in De Smet. At 15 she leaves the family home for the first time to become a school teacher, 12 miles away. (just read These Happy Golden Years- these are the golden years!)
Laura and Almanzo Wilder fall in love in De Smet. Simple, deep, abiding. Soul Mates.
The Long Winter happened in De Smet. You know I LOVE the Little House books, all of them, but The Long Winter is something else. The Long Winter tore me up and I’m still in shreds just thinking about it. The Long Winter is the Trial. Can they survive 7 months of blizzard after blizzard and blizzard? What will they eat when the wheat runs out and the trains can’t get through? Will the hard work and ingenuity and good will be enough to see them through? And when Pa’s fingers are too cold and dumb to play the fiddle, what hope do they really have?
So this is a note to myself to Pay Attention. Pepin was great. It’s Laura’s birthplace and Lake Pepin is beautiful. The quaint museum in town and the little replica cabin are totally worth seeing. Sitting on the ground that Laura and Mary played on was pretty special, too. A very good start pointing for the Laura sites on this pilgrimage. But I remember now, after a night of good sleep, that today is something more. Today is De Smet and don’t forget to really pay attention. (Now, I also have to practice my equanimity so my girls won’t be too embarrassed of their crazy mom crying all over the place. Wish me luck!).