When we were very young, before we could understand the concept of a cautionary tale,
we are told that this book was our most requested read-to-me book.
It seems that the first part of the story became ingrained in us, but the ending, the moral of the bedtime story, never registered consciously or subconsciously as we likely drifted off into carefree childhood slumber each night before the last pages were read.
Once there was a greedy old rabbit.
Everyone called him Mr. Grabbit, because he liked to have just lots and lots of everything.
He bought so many vegetables at the market that he couldn't hold them and they tumbled down the hill.
When he got home he was so hot and thirsty he drank not just his own bottle of milk,
but all the milk the milkman was delivering to the neighborhood.
He went to buy a new, bigger coat, but one wasn't enough.
And of course he wanted not one, but several of the best hats.
Another day, when he was going to visit his cousins he noticed it looked like rain.
He couldn't decide which of his favorite umbrellas to take so he took all four.
When a big wind came up, well you can guess, he sailed away.
And ended up on the church steeple.
In his panic he kicked the bell which alerted the townspeople.
(Why is he the only rabbit in town? It has taken 50 years for us to question that.)
A fireman rescued him and when he heard the story of how Mr. Grabbit came to be in the steeple
he declared "Well, I never!"
That must have been rock bottom for our little rabbit. He stayed in bed for three days. When he got up at last, he made a big sign and tacked it on his house. The sign said:
On Saturday afternoon everyone in the village was in Mr. Grabbit's from yard.
20 people bought Mr. Grabbit's shoes.
16 people bought Mr. Grabbit's coats.
30 people bought Mr. Grabbit's hats.
25 people bought Mr. Grabbit's umbrellas.
And after that when Mr. Grabbit went to market be bought only what he needed. He drank one bottle of milk when he was thirsty. He wore one hat and one coat and carried one umbrella and when he went out nobody ever called him Mr. Grabbit anymore.
Garth Williams, illustrator of the Little House Books as well as Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, The Little Fur Family, and many others including beloved Golden Books such as Baby Farm Animals and Home for a Bunny would be our number one choice to illustrate our life story.
Look what he did for Laura, Mary, and Carrie Ingalls.
Laura's path and NDL's have not been exactly the same, but they have crossed and paralleled many times. We both went west from where we were born. NDL skipped over the big woods of Wisconsin and the prairies of Kansas, but caught up with the wagon train in Minnesota.
One year we took a semester detour to Haiti where the only show we ever remember the host family watching on TV was La Petite Maison sur la Prairie.
Amazingly Laura spoke perfect french, but in a high squeaky voice very different from the one we were used to hear coming from the little rough and tumble pioneer character.
Several of our early homes have been just a step up from a sod house, and our current one, on certain days, in certain months resembles one.
We experienced the vast state of South Dakota notable for its lack of lakes and trees.
We're not sure how the Ingalls managed to find one to live by.
While living in South Dakota there was at least one very long winter when we were not quite reduced to braiding hay to burn in the stove, and going off in a sleigh to find wheat to sustain the town, but it was close. Our car didn't start so we tied a rope to the back door, and with the wind swirling so hard that we couldn't see our hand in front of our face we tried to walk to our jobs even as icicles formed on our eyelashes and our noses and fingers and toes went numb, until fortunately we found a haystack to crawl into while we rode out the storm...
Well, it was pretty bad, and our cars really didn't run for a week or so, until a Christmas miracle happened and one of them started just in time to retrieve Almanzo from his work shift, which he really had walked to and had stayed at for several days, so that we could have Christmas together in our little house on the prairie.
Of all the books perhaps we relate most to The Long Winter. We were born in a January ice storm, named after Laura Ingalls, and are reminded of our start almost every birthday when outside scenes consistently resemble those from our very earliest days* and from the first few winters of our newly married life.
Now we are back in the Big Woods just miles from where little half-pint started out and here we will stay. Unlike Pa, we don't need so much elbow room and rather like being able to see our neighbors and their houses from our own. That's what makes us NDL.
* from NDL's mother's journal
January 20 - Laura Ann was born at 8:15 a.m. lots of black hair in a pretty curl.
January 21 - Kids going late to school and coming home early. Nastiest weather in many years as ice coats everything & cuts off electricity, roads, phones, etc. Zero degree temperatures made more hazard. Safe and snug at home with our new baby finally.
January 22 - Daddy very busy keeping emergency generator going for us and neighbors. We are very lucky to have it.
January 23 -Heavy ice still hangs on everything and temp 10 below at 8:00 a.m.
He left us this beautiful tree and many interesting memories.
In 2011 we wrote:
25 years ago we suggested during an over-the-fence chat with the neighbor man that this, then scrawny tree, with a rather ugly name be cut down. Tom moved to the other hill long ago, but whenever he comes around he never fails to say, as we stand under the graceful Hackberry tree in the lovely shade,
"Yeah, I guess we should have cut that tree down."
Look at all the good deed doing going on. Heavenly music on high and on earth, taking treats to the woodland creatures, spreading stars and arranging them just so, helping St. Nicholas make his rounds and delivering a few presents themselves, visiting the Christkindl Markt, and keeping the stars bright and shiny.
We've wondered who actually helps make Christmas miracles happen.
Now we know!
Made in Germany. EAS - E. A. Schwerdtfeger, Berlin, 1880-1980.
Here they come again. The lads and lasses, lords and ladies of Downton Abbey reprise their roles
on PBS on January 6, 2013.
If you need to catch up on the story so far, or review who's who in the high drama of the venerable English estate you are in luck for over at Grasping for Objectivity they have laid it all out for us.
Thanks to a tip from clever NDL correspondent Honeybee, we present for you here
Taxidermy, Smokey the Bear memorabilia, Leinenkugel's swag,
and shooting sports equipment were exchanged.
A custom-made Wisconsin-shaped cutting board was presented to a lucky recipient with the explanation
that Door County had briefly seceded, but the state was easily reunified with a bit of glue.
Cheese and beer were consumed (in moderation of course).
Team trivia at the tavern was handily won by a Christmas Break super-team.
And wild game was cooked by the hunters and their sous chefs and served on Christmas Day.
The birds were filleted and inspected to make sure they were buckshot-free.
The fillets were browned, wrapped in bacon and covered with white wine, broth and shallots.
After baking, the juices became delicious, bacon-rich gravy.