Anticipation. . .

In less than 48 hours, I’ll be in the same room with Pa’s fiddle, Ma’ china shepherdess, and Laura’s desk.  I’ll be in Mansfield, MO, the place where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the Little House books.  It’s a literary pilgrimage I’ve long wanted to take.  A college friend lives less than 2 hours from Mansfield, so it always seemed like an easy enough trip, even though I’ve never done it.  But after visiting Mankato and Walnut Grove, I knew it was time to add Mansfield to my list of literary landmarks.

Though Mansfield is never featured in Wilder’s famous books, I’ve always been as interested in the places where authors create.  Edith Wharton did almost all of her writing in bed, gazing out the window at the Berkshires.  I might have taken an illegal photo of that view.  Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women at a tiny, half moon desk in her room.  So tiny that I can’t imagine how she fit paper and herself at that desk.  William Faulkner wrote at a typewriter in his antebellum home in Oxford, Mississippi.  All of these places gave me a unique thrill–one I’m pretty sure I’m going to get again on Sunday.

This particular trip isn’t about just the one pilgrimage.  I’ll be communing with Lincoln in Springfield.  And I’ll be reconnecting with dear college friends in Kansas City. 

I am on the fence (freshly whitewashed, of course) about stopping in Hannibal.  My parents and I went there when I was around 14, and I thought it was a strange place then.  Becky Thatcher’s house?  But she was never real. . .  Somehow, I have a feeling it may be even odder to me now.  I’ll probably stop, but it remains to be seen if I’ll find it all amusing or horrifying.

Any of you planning any literary pilgrimages this summer?

4 thoughts on “Anticipation. . .

  1. I haven’t planned any literary pilgrimages yet, but in March had a great one through the Beverly Cleary neighborhood in Portland. While I grew up only a short distance away, and had driven down Klickitat Street and played in Grant Park, this was the first time to see her home and walk past her schools. It was wonderful.

  2. “Rocky Ridge” is the right name for it!!! As I recall, it’s a very bumpy drive up the road to the Mansfield house, and there are rocks everywhere!!! It’s hard to believe that Almanzo was able to have a farm of any kind there with all those rocks in the ground!!!!

  3. I’ve been to Mansfield twice! I love it! It is fun to take literary tours. I really liked visiting 221b Baker Street and Rheinbach Falls! We are planning a driving tour of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. I want to see some of the places mentioned in Susan Cooper’s series.

    • My stesir and I visited Mansfield this past weekend for Wilder Days. Wow – what a wonderful weekend! While we were drawn to Mansfield this particular weekend so that we could actually hear Pa’s fiddle being played and so that we could go upstairs in the Wilder’s farm house, we knew that we also wanted to attend the pageant. This summer we toured all the Laura Ingalls homesites and attended the pageants in Walnut Grove and De Smet. So, naturally, when we learned of the Mansfield pageant, we knew we had to attend. This was, by far, the best pageant of the three. Although it had to be moved inside the school gym due to the weather, the gym backdrop quickly faded away as the pageant came to life. The music was incredible. The scenes chosen for the pageant completely captured the spirit of the books. I was not prepared for the emotional ending. When Laura departs for Mansfield and Pa sings to his half pint, I literally had to wipe away a tear that slipped down my cheek. That was so powerful. Despite the damp, dreary weather, we had an incredible time and are already planning to attend next year so that we can see it at the amphitheater. Thank you for the perfect end to an already wonderful day!

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