Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mrs. Brewster and Me

Page 65, Scanned From These Happy Golden Years
I just finished another listen through of These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I have been borrowing the whole series on audio cd from my library.  It is in this story that we meet Mrs. Brewster.

For those of you who may not remember, in the beginning of this story, Laura is 15.  She goes away from home for the very first time, to teach an eight week term at a country school.  It was a country school in an abandoned claim shanty, 12 miles south of her house.  She boarded with the Brewsters. 

Mr. and Mrs. Brewster were homesteaders who had come from the east.  They had a toddler son, Johnny.  Mrs. Brewster was miserable.  She made her husband, son and Laura miserable, too.   She wanted to go back east.  She hated homesteading.  She hated the prairie.  She was depressed.  She was constantly argumentative with her husband.

The climax happened in the middle of the night one night.  Laura woke up to a scream.  Mrs. Brewster was holding a kitchen knife at Mr. Brewster.  Mr. Brewster was pretty calm and just kept telling her to put the knife back.  Laura saw all this since her own bedroom was only on the other side of a curtain.  (That seems so weird to me, sleeping for eight weeks on the other side of a curtain of some strange couple.)

Mrs. Brewster, I get it.  I've never held a knife out to my husband in the middle of the night, or to anyone at anytime, for that matter.  In fact, the thought has never even crossed my mind.  But, I understand how it is to be miserable in the middle of no where on the strange prairie.  I understand how it is to be financially trapped there, too.  I get it.

You see, I really do hate Colorado and I do hate the bleak ugly prairie.  I just try not to let it get to me anymore.  I know that if we have a shot at farming, this is the place to do it.  If we have a shot at making our ends meets, this is the place to do it where we can grow our own food and benefit from the low cost of living.  I think it is cool that my children will be the fifth generation of [Insert My Last Name Here] farmers in Lincoln County.  I really hate to be so far away from trees and family and friends. 

But I've determined to make the best of it.  I try not to let that bother me. Anymore.

There was a time that I wanted to just pick up and leave.  I really was miserable.  I was Mrs. Brewster.  It had nothing to do with my wonderful husband.  It was the ugly prairie.  It was the lack of my culture here.

I turned it around.  Reflecting on the Second Dolor of Mary really helped me.  (For you non-Catholics out there that may be wondering what I'm talking about, the Seven Dolors of Mary is a chaplet reflecting on Mary's Seven Sorrows.  The Second Dolor is their flight into Egypt. )  The angel told Joseph in the middle of the night to move to Egypt.  They did.  Divine Baby and all.  They obediently moved to a different country in the middle of the night.  They didn't have a telephone or a car or a computer.  They probably spoke a different language.  There was a different culture.  Their move to Egypt makes my move to the prairie look happy.
Oh yeah.  A lot of Confessions, also helped me. 

So, Mrs. Brewster, I get it.  I don't know what became of you.  Hopefully you came to make the best out of the prairie.  Hopefully you got over it.  Hopefully, you had beautiful crops and your family was able to prove up on your claim.

May your soul rest in peace, Mrs. Brewster. 


  1. I love your story! I never read those books in the series..I'm glad I didn't! It is very hard to live so far away from "home". I always wanted to get back to my home state..(although it was just the next state..but I did live one year in TX when we first married..and was very homesick and too poor to travel back to visit) until I realized I have lived here 33 years and in my "home" state, 22! So I decided to give up hoping.ha..the time here surpassed and now became my home. For these 33 years we were tied down here to my husband's job, and now...we are tied down until retirement...seems like we are always tied down for some reason or another. I guess that is parenthood and sacrificing for our children huh!

    Yes the graces from confession are powerful! Fulton Sheen used to say that is one thing psychologists are lacking in.

    1. I have often thought to retire in the Poconos, but am I really going to want to move that far from here, which is where my children will most likely settle, or at least branch out from? It is scary how the time flies. I have lived in Colorado twice as long as I did Pennsylvania and even a year longer than I lived in South Jersey.

    2. Also, These Happy Golden Years is a beautiful book. That Mrs. Brewster event is probably the darkest part of it. Most of the story is about Laura falling in love with Almanzo. It ends with their wedding. It is a beautiful pure subtle love story. Their story is the way it should be, which is so hard to find examples of in our society now.
      I would highly recommend These Happy Golden Years.

  2. True....I am not one for moving away from my kids. I grew up with grandparents in the same small town, and although that is not possible, I can at least be within a couple hours drive of most of them here. I probably have "These happy Golden Years" stored away under my house..the book cover looks familiar. I've had the cookbook on my amazon wish list for a while!

  3. Laura, I really appreciate your honesty. There have been times when I hated where I lived too and was depressed, the landscape was so different (and desolate) from where I grew up. One thing I've realized in life is how God does have a plan for each one of us. Sometimes we can see why this or that happened, or why we are where we are, but most of the time I think God in his wisdom conceals His plan from us for our own good. His ways are higher than our ways. Remember that God has long range plans, and our daily life is part of it. When Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled to Egypt, it was part of a bigger plan, they did their part in the plan and now, two thousand years later, we understand. Your daily life is part of a long-range plan, and I think you may be seeing a small part of it when you mention about the fifth generation being farmers in Lincoln County. We just have to trust that God knows what is best for each of us and leave the results up to Him. He knows our heart and he hears our cries.

    I've read all of the Little House on the Prairie books, they are wonderful. I had forgotten about that incident with Mrs.Brewster!

    1. Thank you for stopping by and thanks for your votes of confidence.

      About four years before I even met my husband, I had a friend who moved to Boulder. She wanted me to come with her.

      "Colorado?!" I said, "You're crazy. I'm not going to move to Colorado!" I was pretty adamant.

      Oh, how I look back upon that event now and laugh. God showed me, didn't He? Now that friend lives back in New Jersey and I'm here :)

  4. I just found you from yhe Catholic homesteading forum. I love your blog and your insight. I can so relate to you. We lived in Colorado our first year of marriage and I hated it. Then we moved to Washington state and it was better but too pricy to have land so we moved to Iowa. My husband was super unhappy and now we are moving to Michigan. I hope this is our last move. I have learned that I must just let it go and be happy no matter where I live or what life throws at me. God is in control.

    1. I have very often thought of moving to this state or that state. Very very often, lol. I also realize since Adam we're not in the Garden of Eden anymore, so every place is going to have it's pluses and minuses. So I just choose to make Eastern Colorado work...