Little House in the Big Woods
This chapter starts off with "Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs." 1959 was VERY different! In this chapter, we are introduced to the little girl, named Laura. She is just described as "little." She's got a Ma and Pa, and two sisters. Mary is older and Carrie is younger. I apologize for my lack of LHOTP knowledge, I never read all of them, and I watched a bit of the show. I do remember going to a program at our library (it was Very Crowded) and hearing someone tell us all about how the show was terrible and nonfactual and blah blah blah. Well, the show was a fictional retelling of the books, which were also marketed as fiction, and the main purpose of television is to sell ads and be entertaining (so they can sell ads). I knew that at 10, so why that guy was so angry was kind of weird.
We learn that there are wolves in the woods, but Pa has a gun he keeps hanging over the door. The front yard has Oak Trees. There are no neighbors. Pa shoots a deer. Then he slaughters a pig. They all smoke some venison with hickory chips.
Winter is coming.
After much discussion of the deer meat and the smoking process (which is interesting, you should read it. It seems like we use the same techniques to this day, only instead of using child labor to find hickory chips (?) on the ground, I buy them at True Value.) Pa finds a bear eating a pig, doesn't get the bear, only the pig. Laura likes bear meat. (I'm not a fan. Maybe Wisconsin bears "sixty years ago" (I can't find a copyright, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that this is not describing 1959, or even 1958) are tastier than 2016 Alaska Bear, but I'll take deer meat or moose meat or wild boar over bear any day. Moose is so very lean and versatile.
Pa goes away one day and comes back with a wagon full of fish, which Ma has to process. Ma, I feel ya. Last summer we were gifted with a LOT of salmon, and spent a Saturday cleaning then in our driveway. I gave a head to my cat, which he ate and then threw up, because he's a little piggy pig who's favorite food is salmon. He hates turkey and most wild birds, though he'll eat the ones he catches himself I'm not fast enough to stop him and toss him back inside. He's old now, and will likely be an indoor cat for the rest of his life.
They process some vegetables from the garden and a pig. Laura doesn't want to hear the pig die, though she has no issues with playing with the bladder later.
They have an Uncle Henry! I had forgotten that they had extended family. It seems like life is OK in Pepin. Oh, yeah, they mention Lake Pepin. I guess Pa went dipnetting and that's where they got the white fish that they salted and stored in barrels.
Once it got cold, Laura and Mary had to stay inside to play. They also had to help with processing the pig, which sounded like a lot of work. They play with squashes and pumpkins (pumpkins are squash!) and their house is full of food. Mary has a rag doll but Laura only has a corncob doll.
At night, Pa plays his fiddle, which is the "best time of all."
It's been a really long time (if ever) since I've read these books. I vaguely remember picking up an occasional one as a kid. I know I had Farmer Boy, and I remember reading about Pa shaving Mary's head after she came down with a fever, but this one is kind of an unknown. I also didn't remember Farmer Boy being second in the series. I know that if I did read them as a child, they were read out of order.
So far, I like it. It's a lot more "childish" than I expected, based on the size of the book. I'm wondering/hoping that the third person limited narration will grow with Laura. It's weird reading about them making headcheese (gross) but also interesting? I am also interested in reading more about these "Big Woods."
I don't plan on being too snarky, just reading the books, recapping/reviewing as I go, and sort of sharing bits from my life. I found her focus on food interesting - I imagine that later in the long winter the family will begin to starve. It's a common thing in Kid's lit. It was clear to me, as well, that JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone while she was going through some stuff, as she focused quite heavily on food descriptions at Hogwarts. Which worked out well, as Harry was also being starved.