I was straightening my daughters book shelves yesterday and found her Little House series. I realized there were a couple of the books I had somehow missed so, with a few minutes before my friend, Leni, and I were due to set out on a foraging expedition, I picked up The Long Winter. I was so engrossed that it was hard for me to pull myself away from it. But I did and the benefits were worth the delayed gratification. In just a couple of hours we had 4 bushels of apples and two HUGE grain sacks full of seckle pears. The pears were tiny but delicious. I know from experience that they don’t hold all that well, even if kept cold so the problem of what to do with them was front and center. We brought our loot back to my house and Bruce pulled out the cider press. The plan was to press just some of the apples but after a bit we found ourselves with one jar that needed more cider to be full. Why not try the pears? We did and the results were amazing. I love pear cider. It is sweeter, richer and more complicated tasting than apple cider. We ended up pressing most of the pears into juice. Some of the juice will get put in the freezer, some drunk on the spot and some may be made into wine. There a lot of these little seckle pears around and you can be sure I will never look at them as a nuisance again. After a fabulous lunch (Leni made a red cabbage and apple slaw with gorgonzola cheese and I grilled some sun-dried tomato, portabella mushrooms and mozzarella cheese sandwiches, I got back to my book. It is a harrowing story of the Ingalls family’s winter spent on the Dakota praire during the worst blizzard season im memory. By the time supplies arrived, the family was living on just a few pieces of wheat bread a day, made from some salvaged wheat ground in a coffee grinder. There was a part in the book where Charles talks about how dependent the family had become on modern conveniences like kerosene lamps and coal stoves and how hard it was to manage without them. Who would have thought it? Charles Ingalls was a closet prepper! After reading about the families brush with starvation, it was a pure pleasure to sit down to dinner. That chicken never tasted so good.

It may seem silly that a grown woman is sitting around reading kids books but a good kids book has the hero or heroines battling the forces of evil without the benefit of a parent figure to solve their problems. I think there is much to learn about learning to use one’s whits and acquiring independence. I am going to reread several that I came across yesterday. It may be a long, cold winter and I can use all the inspiration I can get.

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