Laura Ingalls Wilder and Me

2801238240_9f85e7974b_zAt night at the Ingalls Homestead in DeSmet, SD, we can see the pale, translucent arm of the Milky Way divide a sky of a million stars. The small bright point of a satellite zips across to our left with striking speed and intention. We can’t see the same sky from Evanston, IL.

Down the hill at the homestead, ten acres of corn, beans, and oats are discernible only as a dark patch in a wider expanse of dark. We know that several horses, mules, and ponies must be sleeping in their stalls in the stable, and the kittens that live in the hay-roofed stable have made their rounds of the campground and retired to snuggle in with their exhausted mother.

Our boys have finally quieted down in the tent, and we’re ready to climb the stairs into the tiny covered wagon where we will sleep tonight. We know the boys are exhausted, but they were also worked up from a day of riding horses and wagons and making rope and playing with baby animals. The little one chose a simple wooden jumping jack toy from the gift shop, a toy not so different from the one Grace received for Christmas in By the Shores of Silver Lake. [Read more…]

Before the Fall of Baseball

As a child, school did not rank high on my priority list, which meant my report cards led my parents to believe that, intellectually, I was probably about as dense as a baseball.

While watching a Kansas City Royals game on TV with my father one day, however, I made the mistake of reciting the batting averages of a few players from memory. After verifying the statistics using the career information on my baseball cards, my parents realized—much to their consternation, of course—that I lacked not smarts, but the will to apply myself in school.

I could never coast through class again. But the experience did confirm something for my parents, and somewhat paradoxically: While I was not as thick-headed as they thought, I did have a baseball for a brain. I thought of little besides America’s favorite pastime in those days. [Read more…]