We went out to eat with friends (and Julia! And our two youngest!) last week, and while we were munching on fried calamari (at the best-kept secret in Champlin, Buona Sera restaurant), a violent summer storm blew through and knocked out our internet. We were five days without Facebook, Google, blogs, or email. It was good for us. A fast of sorts. I thought I would miss Facebook the most, but I didn't. I missed my blog and reading others' blogs. Anna Kate missed Google.
We were busy anyway, celebrating her birthday all week long. She turned thirteen. On her birthday she and a good friend from her old school went out for ice-cream. Later, at home, we had cupcakes. She badgered her older siblings till they all eventually texted or called with salutations. And she planned her next Little House adventure with her cousin Naomi. So far we have visited Walnut Grove, MN, De Smet, SD, Burr Oak, IA, and she had already seen Pepin, WI. But Naomi had not.
The last time we were in Pepin, the site of Little House in the Big Woods, Anna Kate was having her eleventh birthday party with two school friends. We went during the Laura Days Festival. It was hot, crowded, frantic, and when we looked for the lake - which should not be hard to find! It's huge! - I parked too far away and we had to drag ourselves along blocks and blocks of sidewalk before we finally found the proper beach.
This time we side-stepped the festival. The town was sleepy, quiet, and serene. We could imagine, as we drove the gorgeous hills between Pepin and the Little House site, that this was the country where Pa got his livelihood by trapping. We could imagine him walking the green slopes, at that time covered with thick trees. We could picture Laura and Mary, their faces peeking out of the wagon as they started their pioneer life. This was the same lake, the same yard where little girls played with a pig's bladder balloon, the same town that made them shy with its store and people.
It's a gift to have a daughter who still loves these Laura houses. She read the books so many times that I had to eventually force her to read others. She and I dream of the day when someone will decide to produce an accurate Little House movie, based on the real stories from the books. The stories cannot be improved upon.
Anna Kate and Naomi in front of the replica Little House in the Big Woods.
Lake Pepin, Wisconsin.
The lake is a widening of the Mississippi River.
It has waves, crushed shells on the beach, and lots of driftwood.
This was the girls' favorite part of the day.
Opening birthday gifts in the yard of the Little House.
We were the only people there.
On a hot day, two girls decided to walk into Lake Pepin as far as prairie dresses allowed.
Inside the Little House.
"She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago."
(The last lines from Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.)