July 5, 2010

When books come to life

Filed under: Kids and Life,The Writing Life — jenny @ 11:32 am

After leaving the first Laura Ingalls Wilder site in Walnut Grove, MN, we drove a few hot and dusty miles up the road to a private farm that just happens to sit on the property where the Ingalls’ built their dugout on Plum Creek. You put $4 in a little box and can tour such sites as the plum thickets, the flat table rocks, the scoop of earth where the dugout used to be, and of course, the creek.

There’s a bridge to cross over to see the points of history–fiction come to life–but we decided to wade in and see how the creek felt. Cool and refreshing, with a rushing current that wasn’t too strong for two young not-yet-swimmers. The joy on my daughter’s face, and in her ringing laugh, as the water pushed her along had to be quieted once one other small group of tourists appeared.

We all could’ve played there for hours, but then my daughter had her own Laura moment.

While I was helping my son in, the current took her over to a deeper area by a tree. As the water rose, she reached to hold on to a branch. It snapped off in her hand…and then she really started to get scared.

I was right there and so could put the don’t-panic lesson I’ve tried to instill for both kids to use right there and then as I made my way to her. But she was frightened enough that the part in ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK where Laura must hold to a fallen log to keep from drowning came even more vividly to life for her.

Scary or not, since this episode came to a safe, fast conclusion, I think it was almost a high point of the day. “Now I can really play Laura!” kind of thing. Helped along by the handmade rag dolls we bought at the store, of course.

There are other places where fiction can be toured and places once stored only in our imagination become physical reality. Mystery lover Marlyn Beebe went to Prince Edward Island and saw Green Gables this summer.

Do you have any such spots to add?

Off to South Dakota tomorrow! Another state none of us in the family has ever been in…


  1. Wow — your daughter is so lucky to have had that experience! I know she’ll always remember it. LOVE my Little House on the Prairie. . .

    Comment by Judy — July 12, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  2. Hope you had a great trip. Happy birthday to Josh.

    Comment by Diane — July 14, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  3. Thanks Diane and Judy. More to come!

    Comment by jenny milchman — July 14, 2010 @ 11:34 pm

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