Friday, June 10, 2011

Little House in the Big Valley

Oh me, oh my, how I love cherry pie!
It is that time of year again, here in our little house in the big Valley. Can you guess what books we just began reading? The Little House books of course! We are starting with Little House in the Big Woods. I don't recall loving these books as much when I was younger as I do now, reading them aloud to my daughters. But something is certain, these stories make me long for a simpler time, a slower life and a richer, more flavorful existence.

When my children grow old, I want them to remember picking cherries, making jam together and baking pies. I don't want them to remember how much time Mommy spent on the computer or talking on the cell phone or how many movies they watched when mommy needed a moment or two. In fact, after reading how cell phones are slowly killing us, I feel inclined to burn mine while simultaneously throwing my laptop out the window. Especially in light of our recent phone and electric bill this month, which could have very well have been more than Pa Ingalls made in his lifetime. None the less, I enjoy picking cherries with my sweeties.

This is the first year I had some little helpers. Sadly we lost half of our cherry tree this winter and my heart is breaking as I admit that my tree is probably dieing. I picked every cherry I could in order to make and enjoy pies and jam as if they are the last we might eat from this tree. We also asked our kind, elderly neighbors if we could have some of their cherries since they don't pick them. They told me to take as many as I liked even though my baby fussed his little head off during our visit with them. They also told me to watch out for the bear!! Apparently they had a bear picking cherries earlier that day and he was 6 feet tall or so they said. But the pies and jam beckoned me, and I went ahead and picked them that evening. As the sky grew dark I wasn't sure if I was more afraid of the bear, or a neighbor with a gun who might think I was a bear, so I hurried in before some unkind fate became of me.

So, hours of pitting later we have cherries in the freezer, cherries in jars, cherries in a pie and cherries in a strudel... and somehow, it still isn't enough! I am already planning my future orchard packed with cherry trees. Both girls helped with the pitting:

It is nice reading the Little House books, because Laura's story brings great importance to the seasonal gathering and preparing of food. My friend Sharon and I were dreaming the other day of how nice it would be to live like they did in Laura Ingall's day, and then our power went out last night for quite a while and you could say we had a little taste of that. Everything was so dark and quiet. We had a peaceful dinner and our house was too dark for the tasks I had lined up. So we went outside and played in the last hour of daylight. We talked to our neighbors who were all out on their porches too. The children went to bed quickly and quietly, reverent almost to the peace and quiet of a simpler life. I did miss my sewing machine and a little midnight Internet surfing, or even adequate reading light, but I enjoyed the pause, the slowness that seemed to keep my babies small and still for a few moments longer than usual. I could relax without worrying about a long to-do list. It was lovely. But I will say, there is also something lovely about a flushing toilet and a washing machine. I suppose I just need to find a healthy balance between simplicity and technology as we make out own journey, in our own little house in this great big valley.

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