Bird is the Word: Calm & quiet – insight from Laura Ingalls Wilder

August 2015 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

Kali-MartinBy Kali Ramey Martin

The moment I found out I’d landed this gig as a small-town newspaper columnist, I knew I needed to consult the experts.

I wracked my brain for who those experts might actually be and remembered suddenly that Laura Ingalls Wilder had spent many years writing articles for her local newspaper in Mansfield, Mo.

To say I have a deep affection for Ms. Wilder might be wildly understating things, so I’ll just tell you that I wasted no time and turned to the all-knowing Amazon for help. Before long I stumbled upon Little House in the Ozarks: The Rediscovered Writings, and for the reasonable price of $8.99, Wilder and all her secrets of small town reporting were on their way to my house. Free shipping, of course.

Happily, I’m only about halfway through the collection, though my suspicion is it’ll be the type of thing I pick up over and over again.

Full of incredibly timeless pieces and a few hilariously dated ones, there’s hardly a page turned where I haven’t read something that struck me.

Wilder is poignant, uninterested in mincing words and writes with such a polite frankness, I can’t help but wonder what kind of trouble she used to get herself into.

Though her children’s series has been proven to be largely fiction, there is most certainly something of the earnest, mischievous and fiercely convicted Laura we all grew up loving.

One evening as I settled into bed with my book in my hand, I read an entry titled, Compensations. Though it was written in November of 1919, I could swear the text had been taken from the very transcript of my own thoughts. I read along with that glowing feeling of solidarity one gets when in total agreement, and ended up here: “We who live in the quiet places have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts, and live our own lives…And so more than ever I am thankful for the peacefulness and comparative isolation of country life. This is a happiness which we ought to realize and enjoy.”

And all I could think was, “YES.”

There have certainly been days where the isolation of country life has seemed utterly suffocating. We’ve lived here almost six months and I’ve hardly met anyone new. The quiet hours of my day far outweigh those with noise, and there are times, deep into a conversation with myself, where I’ve wondered if I might have gone and lost my ever-loving mind.

And at the same time, Wilder’s words cannot be more true. I have the opportunity on a daily basis to think my own thoughts, live my own life, become acquainted with the ins-and-outs of who I am and surround myself in the peacefulness of natural beauty.

I have the luxury of calm and quiet and the opportunity to avoid the noise of the world around me. And this is surely a happiness I ought to realize and enjoy, because most people these days have to schedule a vacation to get a few moments of this sort of peace.

As I’ve watched the fields turn golden in the sun and the crops being dustily harvested all around me, I feel the season coming to a close and my heart gearing up for the next season. I must say, in the spirit of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I’m wholeheartedly looking forward to it. A cool, quiet fall nestled in at home with comfort food, a few good books and the space to get better acquainted with my own mind, sounds like just the kind of quiet country life she might recommend.

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