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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Today's Quote: Laura Ingalls Wilder


From the biography by Donald Zochert:
Like many people who are not pushed in among the crowds of city strangers every day, she was shy and somewhat distant. . . . These quiet times came midway between the hard years of Dakota and the happy years in which she mined her memory for the stories of the Little House books. . . . she was forty-eight years old. She had already reached middle age, that balancing point in life from which many people look backward with less than satisfaction and forward with less than hope.

But Laura was happy and she always seemed to look forward with hope. Her life was anchored in the success she and Almanzo had made of the farm at Rocky Ridge [near Mansfield, Missouri], in its quiet ways and places, in the moments she put aside from her busy chores to reach out and touch the face of nature she had always adored. The hard shadowed years at the beginning of her life with Almanzo had tutored her in the paths of simplicity . . . .

Laura looked around her and thought she saw “a madness in the cities, a frenzy in the struggling crowds” – her words. “We who live in the quiet places,” she realized, “have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts and live our own lives in a way that is not possible for those who are keeping up with the crowd.”

[She wrote:]

In thine own cheerful spirit live,
Nor seek the calm that others give;
For thou, thyself, alone must stand . . . .

(Note by Russ:  I very much relate to what she's saying, but in point of fact, both she and her husband lived to be past 90, and she married at 18, so they had each other to build a life with for a long, long time.  Which is not the same thing.)

5 comments:

Stan said...

I hear you Russ. As much as I like my solitude and independence at times I miss and would like to share things with those that have gone before their time.

Russ Manley said...

Understand, definitely.

scottE said...

an autumn day‏
by laura ingalls wilder
october 1916

king winter has sent warning of his coming! there was a delightful freshness in the air the other morning, and all over the low places lay the first frost of the season.

what a beautiful world this is! have you noticed the wonderful coloring of the sky at sunrise? for me there is no time like the early morning when the spirit of light broods over the earth at its awakening. what glorious colors in the woods these days! did you ever think that great painters have spent their lives trying to reproduce on canvas what we may see every day? thousands of dollars are paid for their pictures which are not so beautiful as those nature gives us freely. the colors in the sky at sunset, the delicate tints of the early spring foliage, the brilliant autumn leaves, the softly colored grasses and lovely flowers - what painter ever equalled their beauties with paint and brush?

i have in my living room three large windows uncovered by curtains
which i call my pictures. ever changing with the seasons, with wild birds and squirrels passing on and off the scene, i never have seen a landscape painting to compare with them.

as we go about our daily tasks the work will seem lighter if we enjoy
these beautiful things that are just outside our doors and windows. it pays to go to the top of the hill now and then to see the view and to stroll through the woodlot or pasture forgetting that we are in a hurry or that there is such a thing as a clock in the world. you are "so busy"! oh, yes, i know it! we are all busy, but what are we living for anyway, and why is the world so beautiful if not for us? the habits we form last us through this life, and i firmly believe into the next. let's not make such a habit of hurry and work that when we leave this world, we will feel impelled to hurry through the spaces of the universe using our wings for feather dusters to clean away the star dust.

the true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies.

i strolled today down a woodland path -
a crow cawed loudly and flew away.
the sky was blue and the clouds were gold
and drifted before me fold on fold;
the leaves were yellow and red and brown
and patter, patter the nuts fell down,
on this beautiful, golden autumn day.

a squirrel was storing his winter hoard,
the world was pleasant: i lingered long,
the brown quails rose with a sudden whirr
and a little bundle, of eyes and fur,
took shape of a rabbit and leaped away.
a little chipmunk came out to play
and the autumn breeze sang a wonder song.

scottE said...

going after the cows‏
by laura ingalls wilder
april 1923

with the birds singing, the trees budding, and "the green grass growing all around," as we used to sing in school, who would not love the country and prefer farm life to any other? we are glad that so much
time can be spent out-of-doors while going about the regular affairs of the day, thus combining pleasure with work and adding good health for full measure.

i have a favorite way of doing this, for i have never lost my childhood delight in going after the cows. i still slip away from other things for the sake of the walk through the pastures, down along the creek, and over the hill to the farthest corner where the cows are usually found, as you can all bear witness.

bringing home the cows is the childhood memory that oftenest recurs to me. i think it is because the mind of a child is peculiiarly attuned to the beauties of nature, and the voices of the wildwood, and the impression they made was deep.

"to him who, in the love of nature, holds community with her visible
forms, she speaks a various language." (from "thanatopsis" by william cullen bryant), you know. and i am sure old mother nature talked to me in all the languages she knew when, as a child, i loitered along the cow paths, forgetful of milking time and stern parents waiting, while i gathered wildflowers, waded in the creek, watched the squirrels hastening to their homes in treetops, and listened to the sleepy twitterings of birds.

wild strawberries grew in grassy nooks in springtime. the wild plum
thickets along the creek yielded their fruit about the time of the
first frost in the fall. and all the time between, there were ever varied, never failing delights along the cow paths of the old pasture. many a time, instead of me finding the cows, they, on their journey home unurged, found me and took me home with them.

the voices of nature do not speak so plainly to us as we grow older,
but i think it is because, in our busy lives, we neglect her until we
grow out of sympathy. our ears and eyes grow dull, and beauties are
lost to us that we should still enjoy.

life was not intended to be simply a round of work, no matter how
interesting and important that work may be. a moment's pause to watch
the glory of a sunrise or a sunset is soul satisfying, while a birds'
song will set the steps to music all day long.

Russ Manley said...

She was a gifted writer, and she had soul - lovely stuff, Scott, thanks for posting these.

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