Twistin’ Straw

January 12, 2009 § 1 Comment

Of all the Little House books, I’d have to say that The Long Winter is one of my favorites.  It tells the tale of the Ingalls women struggling to make it through a brutal Minnesota winter while Pa is away, getting “the Barrel” from “the city”.  I’m doing all of this from memory, so if my details are sketchy, try to deal with it in an adult manner.  Although it deals with dire conditions of starvation, frostbite and deadly prairie blizzards, it also touches on my favorite subject of shelter, nest and home.  The family is all cooped up inside with NO DIRECTV, no high calorie snacks and no Diet Coke.  As their supplies grow thin, they must take to twisting straw into tight little logs to burn in th wood stove.  All day, all night, one of the girls is always sitting near the hearth, twisting straw.  I was flat out enthralled by this for some reason.  I guess it was mostly by their ability to make do with what they had without whining or pouting or screaming “OMG I’M GOING TO DIE IF I DON’T GET A DECENT PIECE OF BEEF UP IN HERE.”

The point is, Chicago is under a blizzard warning, and while I am fairly terrified of rain storms and tornados, snow storms are when I shine.  For some reason, snow storms bring out my nestiness, my love of ‘living small’, of ‘stocking up’ and ‘hunkering down’.  I went grocery shopping yesterday and made a big roast dinner so we could have left over mashed potatoes and gravy and roasted chicken and stuffing and all that jazz.  But most of all, I went shopping yesterday because I liked the idea of “getting supplies”. I like to pretend that I’m not going to have to get up and leave the house and go to work even if there is a blizzard and that some dream world thing will happen where I get a phone call,

“It’s not a fit day out for man nor beast, stay home Ms. McCartney, stay home and build a fort with your daughter and sew and make cocoa and a warm dinner in a heavy pot.  Don’t come in to the office whatever you do!  Make sure that you’re in front of the window when the sun goes down and the snowy sky turns pink orange with the craggy fingers of trees breaking through it like lightning.  Play a game involving dice!  Snuggle under a blanket!  Take a nap.  And gosh oh golly, you’d better hope the power doesn’t go out, forcing you to use candles all day.”

As the winter started for us, way back in November with a wicked snow, I opined that no one has cozy shelter hunkerdown days anymore.  It’s this damn technology that allows us to blog, that brings movies to our mailbox within a day of asking for them, that shows marathons of Top Chef on Bravo.  When we get snowed in, or rained in or Lazed in, we all separate.  Someone gets the laptop to futz around chat rooms or poker games or keeping up with sporting events, someone watches a t.v. in one room, someone watches t.v. in another, children play with games that talk back to them, that teach them how to read with a robotic voice.  Food is zapped in the microwave, people work from home by ‘dialing in’.  Offices demand to have your cell number, your home number.  There is no escape from the modern world. 

In the midst of my gnashing of teeth for days gone by, I then stumbled into the wormhole of Turkey Feathers and her ‘snowed in day’ where she did everything I dreamed of, right down to the crock pot and the board game.  Well, um, fine, surely she’s an oddity.  Oh no, then Soulemama stabbed me in the heart with her wish for a wintry, cozy weekend. And I sadly realized that people are indeed out there, living the life I have imagined.  It is easy to achieve.  I strongly suspect these families are not settling in with their t.v. trays to catch the Family Guy mini marathon on TBS every Tuesday.  It’s just that simple.  If I want to live small, if i want to feather my nest with handmade quilts and paintings and fill my shelves with scrapbooks and picture frames, I’ve got to unplug.

It won’t be easy.  I am in love with t.v. as if it were my lifeblood.  I love good t.v., I love bad t.v.  I love ‘smart’ t.v., I love the dumbest, dumbed down brainlessest t.v. there is.  I will never be able to shut off completely…but this winter, this 2009 I’m going to try and be cozy to build the home I’ve imagined, to write, to sew, to paint, to sculpt, to read, to snuggle, to twist the proverbial straw.

Who’s with me?


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§ One Response to Twistin’ Straw

  • Meredith says:

    Oh man. Oh man oh man oh man. I really WANT this. I do. But turn off my teevee? :: hyperventilating ::

    Unplugging. I totally agree. It has to be done. Well, I pretty much have to do that anyway to be able to accomplish the workload for 3 classes this semester. But yeah, I’m with you. I’d really like to cozy up the hearth, myself.

    But I’m pretty sure the girls wouldn’t have minded twistin straw with a Top Model marathon in the background.

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