I’m pretty sure I have never read one other thing I thought was as romantic as when Almanzo Wilder drove a horse drawn sleigh over the frozen winter
prairie to gather Laura Ingalls so she could spend the weekends with her
family. Sigh. South Dakota
I probably read THESE HAPPY GOLDEN YEARS, the eighth book in the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, when I was eight or nine, and it is my favorite of the “Little House” books. The courtship of Laura and Almanzo was the perfect first romance for my little girl self.
When Laura Ingalls began teaching – at the age of fifteen I should add (she lied and said she was sixteen but that’s another story) – she took a position in a one-room schoolhouse that was a long way from her family’s DeSmet, South Dakota home. The couple she lived with proved to be a challenge – the woman was mentally unstable and there were moments when Laura felt her life was in danger. Laura eventually enjoyed teaching but she was never happy or comfortable in that house. Every Friday during the long winter, Almanzo braved the cold, the bitter prairie wind, and the dangerous icy plains just so Laura could be with her own family in DeSmet, and then he’d take her back on Sundays. I didn’t think that love could ever be better expressed. I fell hard.
About five years ago I took a Laura Ingalls Wilder trip and visited many of her homes. My last stop was at the home where Laura and Almanzo lived most of their lives together in
. There are some amazing
things to see in that house – a portrait of their daughter Rose, Laura’s pa’s
fiddle, Laura’s china, jars still containing some of Almanzo’s medications, and
so much more. But my favorite part of the house, of the trip in fact, was a
space that was probably about five feet by about ten feet. It was a nook off
the front and dining rooms. It had its own short walls. Inside that nook was
Laura’s library. Shelves full of books filled the space, and I could imagine
Laura venturing inside, finding a book, and then making her way to the window
seat at the front of the house where she used to sit and read. As I listened to
the tour guide explain that Almanzo had built this library for Laura because
she loved books so much, my heart, of course, swooned a little more, and I knew
that both Laura and I had picked the right guy. Mansfield,
The best thing about literary crushes is that they are able to live on forever and be visited again and again simply by opening a book. It was great to meet Almanzo Wilder when I did, and I’m so glad that he was my “first.”
Thank you, Sabrina!