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Little House in the Big Woods: Winter Days and Winter Nights

Maggie Mae


Winter Days and Winter Nights

It's winter now, and Pa is trapping animals. I can't imagine how much work he must be forcing on poor Ma. They are trapping small animals, big animals, and medium animals. I also despise trapping, more so than any other type of hunting. And now, in 2019, selfish trappers who can't be bothered to follow regulations occasionally trap someone's pet. Anyway, so back in 1873, Pa goes to check his traps and comes back with a bear and a pig. Pa "didn't know" where the pig came from, so he took the meat home. (The bear attacked the pig, this is the rest of the pig.) My guess is that he knows exactly which homestead it came from and decided to just take it. The meat is frozen, because it's winter. It snows a lot. 

In the mornings, the frosted over windows have beautiful pictures of trees and flowers and fairies. 


Ma said that Jack Frost came in the night and made the pictures, while everyone was asleep.

I might be reading this incorrectly, but is Ma drawing pictures for the girls? That's so nice of her. I never cared much for Caroline on Little House on The Prairie (the TV show), but this just seems like such a sweet thing to do.  Of course, I could be wrong. It could be natural phenomenon. We have one window that isn't double pained, and during the last cold snap (we had a high of -2C last Friday, I don't know what in US terms, I only know that because my non-American friend posted it on Facebook) I noticed it was iced over. I pulled the blinds down and hoped that the moisture would evaporate before it caused any real issues. 

Laura and Mary have to help with chores. Boo. They wipe dishes every day, and air their own bed. The illustration of the little trundle bed is so cute and reminds me of Kirsten from the original and best American Girls. I should read those again. Or maybe I should read something intended for 36 year old women. Oh, wait, things that are marketed to my demographic seem to be "romance" "drama/romance" or the occasional comedy about shopping and being a Lady Boss. I wonder if there is a market for strong female characters in fantasy or historical fiction but not super historical because I'd rather not read about seducing Mr Darcy again thanks. (Never mind I love Bridget Jones). 

There is an adorable poem about chores! I should use it! 


Wash on Monday,

Iron on Tuesday,

Mend on Wednesday,

Churn on Thursday,

Clean on Friday, 

Bake on Saturday. 

Rest on Sunday. 

I'd get to take Tuesday, Wednesday AND Thursday off! My poem would be more like this: 


Bike on Monday, (and do laundry)

Run on Tuesday, (and do laundry)

Swim and Bike on Wednesday, (and do laundry)

Run on Thursday, (with people!) (ignore the laundry)

Swim on Friday, (ignore the laundry)

Run & Yoga on Saturday, (do the darn laundry it's overflowing)

Sleep on Sunday (and cook for the week)

At no point do I ever do any dusting, churning, or ironing. If I am having people over, then I dust. 

Laura loves churning. 

Side note: My mom loved LHOTP, much more than I ever did. I loved Kirsten from AG because she went on adventures, not because I have a love of self-sufficiency and old-timey projects. I also usually went to camp for most of every summer. One year she sent me to a weird Girl Scout Camp. It was only 2 weeks and it was pitched as some sort of "Pioneer Girl" experience. I didn't really want to go, I liked the regular camp much more, and I wouldn't know anyone, and I'd never even heard of corncob doll making. I was most excited about the part where I was promised to "learn how to make your own butter" and I had pictured myself using one of those old fashioned wooden churning devices. Turns out we just put the ingredients in an old cool whip container and took turns shaking it. 



I am very excited to learn that they colored their butter with a carrot! I am equally pleased that Ma scalded the long wooden churn dash before putting it into the cream. I've been wondering how clean those things really were. Wood traps bacteria. We have a very nice wooden cutting board, but we always use a plastic cutting board over the top because it's more sanitary, and glass destroys knives. Just a little kitchen tip from Maggie. 



After the butter is removed, she washes and salts it, and then molds the butter! When I made butter at camp, it was just served out of the recycled cool whip container. No one liked it, probably because it wasn't salted.  Never send your kids to discount girl scout pioneer camp. They also had us "do real live pioneer chores" like "feed the horses twice a day." I seriously think they had our parents pay to use us as labor. We measured out oats and fed the horses, and we groomed the horses, and cleaned all of the riding gear, and didn't do normal camp things like "ride the horses" or "canoe" or "swim in the lake." (Well, we got to swim once or twice. But I'd think for a two week session we'd get to swim daily or at least every other day.) 

Ma gives Mary and Laura a drink of buttermilk on butter making day. (Eww) And wow, that seems like a lot of butter if they are doing this every week. 

On Saturdays they make bread. If I were a stay-at-home mom, I'd make bread more often, it's fun and bread goes stale quickly. Granted, I don't really eat bread which is why whenever I buy it it goes stale or moldy. Maybe I'd just make us go live in one of the two neighborhoods that have bakeries and then buy bread daily. I'd like to live like a French person, starting my day with a fresh croissant, eating herbed salads for lunch and coc au vin for dinner, with wine, and still stay within an appropriate weight range for my frame. Seriously, do they put something in the water? I've been watching my diet for 10 years and I am no where near french sized. 

Ma sounds awesome or very bored. (Or both, they are not mutually exclusive.) After she does all of the work for the day, she does more work, and cuts paper dolls for her kids. Yet they seem to think the best part of every day is when Pa comes home. The girls run to him, and sit on his lap while he warms up, then he goes back out to do chores in the barn and bring in firewood. If the traps were empty and he comes home early because he found game early in the day, he would play with his children. 



Ma yells at Pa because the girls are scared. He plays fiddle and sings. (Can you play and sing at the same time?) 

Everything seems so cozy, a family with a dog and a cat living alone in the woods next to a lake. This is the setting for the next chapter, which is called "The Story of Grandpa and the Panther."  It's story time! 

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Girl Scout Camp for me was Not Fun.

Meat in Everything.

But, I liked boats. Tipping canoes on purpose was a good time. And when I went back in year 2 (Why?) I learned sailing. I have never sailed again. I have gone on more boats. Lakes, boats, swimming, this is where my only athletic confidence is rooted.

I also learned that bugs invade wet clothing. Summer 1 was the year of 100 chigger bites :( 

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I'm loving the stream of consciousness comments; they may be my favourite part of your recap. I'm also glad you're recapping these. I loved them as a kid and just finished a reread over the summer.

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