Hubs says he was born 100 years too late (his birth occurred in 1948). He would have loved being a pioneer. Living on the prairie, working the land, hunting, raising scrawny animals, growing stunted crops with a passel of kids running around half naked and dirty. Ugh. Not me. He might have been forced to search for another life partner to dosey-doe with. Just the thought of someone shoving a dirty pliers in my mouth without novocaine or nitrous oxide and yanking out an abscessed tooth makes me nauseous. Could have been serious, even deadly having a breech baby without narcotics or worse, by myself. Not the life I envisioned.
Sometimes I yearn for the simple days of my childhood. But I was born in the perfect era, and have never longed to be part of a wagon train. Had I been I would have insisted upon zipping right past Iowa during our 5 mile per day clip. “This is not where I belong.” Don’t get me wrong, I got nothing but love for my native state. Being a kid in a small town in northwest Iowa was great. I’m happy I grew up in Rock Valley, but there’s a big part of Iowa I never embraced during my 36 years of residency.
Winter. I detest it with every fiber of my being. At the tender age of 10, I was never giddy after a foot of snow (flying in from the west at 30 mph). Don’t ever recall saying, “ohhh I can’t wait to get to Benson’s Hill and go sledding.” Didn’t like ice skating, snowball fights, sledding or freezing my legs since we had to wear skirts. (although I was the first one up and fervently prayed for school cancellation when a boatload of snow fell). About the only part of winter that was neat were the plows pushing the town’s snow, making a gigantic-4-block-long-15-foot-high-wall of snow smack dab in the middle of our outrageously wide Main Street. I can remember mom driving very slow because it was impossible to see around that mountain of snow when she turned.
Guess I’m a wuss. I’m a big fan of modern medicine, doctors, dentists, surgery, anesthesia, antibiotics, pain killers, birth control. I love grocery stores, natural gas heat, air conditioning, cars with 4-wheel drive. Who doesn’t like heated seats when you live in a state where winter lasts several months a year? That’s really where I went wrong. The reason I cried when I was born during December is because I already hated winter. Put me back in! I was supposed to grow up farther south with warmer temps.
Much as I love to watch flickering flames and hear crackling wood burning in a fireplace, it has far less appeal when that fireplace is used to heat our 500 square foot log home with wind whistling through the cracks in the Midwest during the 1870’s. No thanks. While I love canning, baking and making meals from scratch, hanging big pots over that roaring fire seems hopelessly inaccurate and inadequate to get everything cooked to perfection in a timely manner. I’m not a grower of foods, that’s why God made Farmer’s Markets.
There would be no button to push to start the coffee maker after turning up the heat. No whoosh of the gas furnace as it quickly warms up the house. (and I think it’s cold sitting on the pot when I get up now). Think about it, no toilet, no Northern bath tissue and what good are a dozen assorted bottles of Bath & Body Works foam soaps if I don’t have hot and cold running water? Or a sink? Goodness, he didn’t think this through at all.
It’s hard to visualize doing much after sundown (which accounts for that passel of kids) with candles as your only lighting or using an oil lamp. Definite damper on nighttime reading. Heating up water (hauled to our one room house with a bucket from somewhere, a well or river) to wash dishes. My whole day would be cooking or cleaning up. When did they find time to care for the kids or work in the garden? The thought of only taking a bath/washing my hair once a week or less? I just can’t. What about toothpaste and a half dozen toothbrushes to get me through a year? There goes my healthy compulsion to brush my teeth multiple times a day. No, I’m definitely a wuss and would have struggled with that hard life.
I wouldn’t have been a good pioneer woman. I poke my finger multiple times when I get a needle threaded to sew a button on. I need a haircut every six weeks. I like lots of windows and they need to be sparkly clean. I haven’t worn a dress in 25 years, so a corset is out of the question. Where would I send for my sport bras? Does Amazon even stick to their strict schedule, delivering to the prairie in 1 or 2 days? What style number does New Balance use for shoes to wear walking behind the plow?
I thought I’d live in Iowa my whole life. But when the opportunity to move was offered where did the Hubs’ and I decide to go? To Michigan with winters just as long as Iowa’s! Maybe even more snow but a bit less severe with cold temperatures. What were we thinking? But both states are extremely beautiful during the summer. Iowa’s green everywhere with tall corn swaying in the wind and Michigan has lakes galore. With the small exception of these long, miserable winters. At least both states are full of modern conveniences. And I was born in 1950 instead of 1850. Hallelujah…
2 thoughts on “Another place & time…”
I agree; I wouldn’t have made a good pioneer either. As a kid, I hated camping because it meant sleeping cramped and usually cold then washing my face with cold water from the bucket. Had to be either cooking the next meal over a fire grate or hauling water to wash dishes from the last one. Yuck. I lived a couple places where the only toilet had a crescent moon and was several yards from the house. I’ll take modern houses and appliances any day.
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Ah, we have a lot in common. We used to do quite a bit of tent camping when we were first married but I was kinda grumpy about it. It took me 2 days to get ready to go (packing and food prep) and 3 days to recover (washing the sand out of everything). My idea of camping now is a Holiday Inn but I’d rather just stay home. And I’m grateful for every modern convenience I have. We’re watching a new series called 1883 and it sure seems to depict how tough life was on the wagon train. Thankful I was not born during that era…
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