From the June 2019 issue

In Search of the Little House on the Prairie Life

Metro Parent's editor-in-chief talks Little House on the Prairie life, why she wanted it as a kid and how living a simple life can benefit families.

Clothespin and a bonnet on a green floral dress

Julia Ingalls of Walnut Grove.

That has a wonderful ring to it, don’t you think? No knock to my folks, but as a kid, I sure thought so.

My favorite show – hands down – was Little House on the Prairie.

I longed for life in the country with Jack the dog as my sidekick, days filled catching a “mess” of fish and baling hay and nights spent eating Ma’s beef stew and fresh-baked pie while listening to Pa play his fiddle or tell stories beside a roaring fire.

I was a suburban kid who lived in an apartment with modern conveniences that would have blown the Ingalls’ minds.

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I mean, forget MTV and Walkmans, these folks didn’t even have a record player. And they were giddy when they had a water pump installed in their kitchen. Can you imagine their reaction to having a washer and dryer?

And yet I would have traded it all for their simple, hard-working life. That says a lot for a kid who spent a lot of her time sitting in air conditioning playing Pac-Man.

Lately I’ve been reliving this childhood fantasy thanks to the show being added to Amazon’s streaming lineup.

I’ve been binge-watching it since March – which, for me, means watching episodes as I can. I’m in Season 4 right now and I have to say the nostalgia is fierce. So much so that it was the inspiration for this month’s cover story.

This summer, I want to experience more of that old-fashioned, back-to-nature life. I want to spend less time with my face staring at a screen and more time sitting in front of a stream, perhaps catching some fish for supper.

I want fewer weekends wandering through the warehouses of Costco or IKEA and more weekends wandering through the parks and woods aplenty we have here in Michigan. And, gosh darn it, I’m going to Greenfield Village this summer.

I may even buy myself a bonnet to wear. And I don’t even care who stares. Where else could I wear a bonnet and not look like a total fool? I only wish I could buy one at Oleson’s Mercantile, but alas …

Summer is the perfect time to connect with nature, to try new things (or experience old ones we’ve lost track of – like how to churn butter!) and to revel in the simple pleasures of a day outside in the sun amongst the trees and bugs and birds.

That’s always been true for kids young and old. The era of the Ingalls family may be long gone, but we can all still have a taste of that sweet, simpler time.

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