The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Series: #6 in the Little House series
Publication Date: originally 1940, this edition 1968
The Short Version:
As the Ingalls family settles in for the first winter on their homestead in the Dakota Territory the historic winter of 1880-81 is about to hit.
Why I Read It:
I started my re-read of this series due to a Read-along that seems to have fizzled out but I can’t leave it unfinished so I’m finishing up the series.
Now that the Ingalls family has started to settle in on their homestead claim in the Dakota territory near the new town of DeSmet things appear to be settling down.
Unfortunately the upcoming winter of 1880-1881 will be a record setting one, When the first blizzard hits early October it’s only the beginning. The family moves from their unfinished claim shanty into town to the storefront building that Pa built. Even within the relative safety of the town however, the winter proves to be a harrowing one. With few breaks between them the blizzards just keep coming. The trains can’t get through, supplies run low and Spring seems to be later than ever before.
Haysticks, grinding wheat in a coffee grinder for coarse bread, listening to the wind howl and trying to keep despair at bay are what makes up the days for the family.
I am not going to worry about spoilers with this series.
As I’ve done with previous books in the series I’m just going to post a few random thoughts that ran through my head as I read this.
Haysticks, coarse brown bread and wind have got to be the most used words in this book.
I remembered that this was the book where Almanzo and his brother Royal really became part of the story.
What I didn’t remember is that Almanzo is kind of a jerk in this book. He hides his own seed wheat but then risks his life and the life of another young man to convince another farmer to sell his seed wheat so the town can eat until the trains get through. The whole scene where he was convincing this man to sell his seed wheat while his was safely hidden away seemed so ironic to me even with the prior conversation that Almanzo’s wheat wouldn’t be enough to save the town. It just really bugged me this time around that he basically bullied Mr. Anderson into doing what he refused to do,
More haysticks. More coarse brown bread.
I’m so glad Mr. and Mrs. Boast are OK – I only vaguely remembered them from reading these as a kid.