Yesterday, we cleaned out, scrubbed down and shampooed the interior of Dowlan's 00 Xterra so that we could drive it to my parents' house today. Dad's going to fix up a few of the most annoying problems so that we can sell it while it's still worth something.
The air-conditioner hasn't worked in a couple of years. I know that sounds wimpy, but we've had record heats all summer. Other things have started to go wrong--sensors and water pumps. The final straw is that the max speed is now 52 miles an hour--anything faster, and it shakes and sputters uncontrollably. At about 10 years old and nearing 140k miles, it just has that feeling of 'Everything is about to go very wrong, and expensively so.'
So we set off on our 200+ mile trip, never topping 52 miles an hour. We're only gone for a night and had packed pretty minimally. Combined with the thorough scrubbing from the day before. this meant we had no toys in a car with three children for close to six hours.
Realizing that this was about to be the case, but having no time to pack, I grabbed Little House In The Big Woods. Once we got settled in on the road, I began to read to the girls the story I loved so much as a child, of Laura, Mary, Carrie, Ma and Pa living in a log cabin in the Wisconsin woods.
The girls were fascinated and Charlie went along with it, for the most part. When they got snuggled up in bed tonight, they asked to hear 'one more chapter of the big book'.
My grandmother on my dad's side wasn't the grandmotherly type, and one of the few things I remember fondly of her was receiving the complete Little House series for Christmas when I had just turned ten. I was mostly through the series before we went back to school and remember sobbing when I finished the last one because I was out of books. I read them over and over again, at least a dozen times and probably closer to two. I remember marking each page where Pa sang a song and going back through, making up my own tunes for each one and sometimes shocked later to hear the song and realize that it was not written the way I sang it in my head.
It was so exciting to revisit this world, and to sneak back glances of the girls, riveted by the idea of living in that house with that much snow and that much work. I had forgotten how vivid her language is and found myself thinking what life would have been like not as Laura this time, but as Ma. That many kids, that much work, that alone in the world--amazing, that prairie woman.