When many of us hear the term ‘pioneer woman’, we think of a popular cooking show on The Food Network. This is about the true pioneer women, from the 1800’s and early 1900’s. How would you measure up to the task?
In April, 1903, Carrie Gladys Thomson, age 7, her mother and other members of the family boarded the train from Wisconsin to North Dakota. Her father had gone out several weeks earlier to claim their new land and begin the homestead. He was lured by the great harvest fields and was chasing the wheat rush – similar to the gold rush. Life would be good for the Thomson’s.
The family lived in tents and cooked over a camp fire for several weeks until the house was finished. The closest town with any shopping was 26 miles away, and once a week, someone would travel by horseback to get mail and supplies.
In less than three months, Carrie’s mother, Mary Ann, delivered some bad news to her husband. “Charley, we’re outta here.”
The amber waves of grain would not be a part of my family’s history as they traded in North Dakota’s flat, barren land and returned to the lush, green hills (and rocks) of Wisconsin.
So what’s the significance of this story? Carrie was my paternal grandmother, and I thought of this story last weekend when I lost power in my home. As I sat next to the window knitting a scarf, wrapped in a quilt, hanging on to the last vestiges of daylight, I wondered if I had the attributes of a true pioneer woman. Here’s what I came up with.
√ Likes a good adventure (Provided a warm shower and good bed awaits me each night.)
√ Travels light (But prefers not to.)
√ Enjoys sleeping in a tent and a Conestoga wagon (Does junior high camp count?)
√ Can start a campfire (Butane lighter and fire-starters required.)
√ Makes a good one-pot meal (This, I can do!)
√ Experience squatting in the woods (Had to do this in Africa; swore I’d never do it again)
√ Can assist in bartering (What can a quilt or handwoven blanket buy?)
√ Orientation skills (All I need is the sun and some moss.)
√ Knowledge of trail marking (Sticks and stones.)
Ο Can entertain herself when the sun goes down – Nope, no way, not a chance
In reality, I couldn’t have made it as a pioneer woman, and the prospect of being a prospector would have been wasted on me, and not just because I don’t like to read by candlelight.
It wasn’t fifteen minutes after sundown a week ago, and with no knowledge of when power might return, I was packed and on my way to the Conestoga Crown Plaza where a warm bed and a good dinner was waiting for me. I know. A little soft. What do you do these days when its dark and the power goes out? When it’s five hours before bedtime? (Going to a movie wasn’t an option.)
How about you? Would you have welcomed the songs of wild animals and the opportunity to find nuts and berries for your meals? Just curious – who are my pioneer friends? You’re a far better person than I am.