Living Like on the Banks of Plum Creek ~ Expectations

On the Banks of Plum Creek was one of my favorite Little House books. I love the idea of such a wild prairie and truly living the prairie life. I had the chance to visit the site about a year and a half ago and I loved it. There isn’t much there but it’s still very cool to see the place where they lived, the sunken in dug-out and the creek that Laura played by and in. Something I realized while going back through this book was that Garth Williams(the illustrator) got the pictures almost exactly right!

The space for the dugout is small. Can you imagine living in such a place? Dirt walls, dirt floor, and dirt overhead. One tiny window. I imagine I’d feel a little like a prairie dog.

“Over the edge of the bank, the path turned and went slanting down, close against the grassy bank that rose up like a wall. Laura went down it cautiously. The bank rose up beside her til she could not see the wagon. There was only the high sky above her, and down below her the water was talking to itself. Laura went a step father, and then one more step. The path stopped at a wider, flat place, where it turned and dropped down to the creek in stair-steps. The Laura saw the door. The door stood straight up in the grassy bank, where the path turned. The was like a house door, but whatever was behind it was under the ground. The door was shut. ” ~ On the Banks of Plum Creek p. 3- 4

The first chapter of this book is a little misleading. It talks about how Pa met the man selling the land right on the land and they made a deal. In fact, this was not the case. Pa bought the land before they got to Minnesota. He was told it had a stable and a house on it. What a surprise when they got there! I’m sure they had some idea of what this place would be like and I’m guessing the dugout didn’t really meet their expectations.

We all have expectations in life. We hope for things to happen. Since I was about 6 or 7 years old I kept a journal. (Well, several of them) Throughout my growing up years I would write in these journals. I’d write things that happened and things that I wanted to happen. Something that I write over and over in my journals is that, “When I grow up I want to be a writer.” I always loved to read and I always had a knack for Grammer and English. I wanted to be a writer.

When I left home at 18 to go to college I didn’t really know for sure that’s what I wanted. I loved English classes throughout high school and scored very high on the ACT’s for Reading and English. I even got into an Advanced English Class in college. I hated it. My teacher made us write these weird things that I hated writing. She didn’t like creative writing at all(which was my favorite) she made us read odd books and short stories that I felt were super boring. But regardless of how much I hated the class I tried really hard to make an honest effort, even though she never rewarded me for making that effort, she always found something that I did wrong.

I came home after that first semester to go to a different school. I still didn’t know what I wanted to go to school for or if I even wanted to go to school. I grew up always thinking and hoping that I would be a writer but I felt let down and discouraged by the class I took and the teacher I had. After deciding school wasn’t for me I got married and worked some random jobs up until about 2 years ago(then a little more after that). Almost 2 years ago in June I started this website. Not so much for writing but to help and encourage people on ways to save money and to have a good life. About a year ago I really started writing more articles on the site. In the last 4 months the articles have really picked up and now I’m not just writing for my own site but for other blogs, and soon, some magazines.(This summer!)

Back on track….when I was young, I had this expectation of how my life would be. I thought I knew what I wanted and what was going to happen. But the truth is, we have no way of planning on what the future may bring. After high-school it took me 5 years to truely finally get on the writing path I want to be on. I had expectations for college and what that would bring to my life and it didn’t happen, in fact it almost nearly killed those expectations.

Back to our little dug-out in the ground. Was Ma expecting a fancy mansion? No. Was she expecting a dug-out in the creek bank. No. Did she make do with her situation until later when things could get better and she could have a real house. Absolutely. Ma’s reaction to the dugout after her initial shock?

“Ma was pleased. She said, “It’s small, but it’s clean and pleasant. “”

I’m pretty sure Ma had more patience than I will ever have. To be put in a situation like that and have to live in a house in the ground, and then to be pleased about it. I don’t know that I could always do that!

Everyday we probably face a situation that isn’t something we expected. Not that we shouldn’t have high exceptions! That’s what helps us come out of the situation we are in and hope for brighter days. But reality isn’t always we we expect. (Or is it ever?) I don’t have the cute farm house with a white picket fence and the perfectly trimmed grass with wildflowers blooming around the edges. I have an old house in not-the-best shape, where all the stray cats in the neighborhood seem to congregate, and where the ground is so hard is broke the tiller last year. Not really up to my exceptions, but it’s reality. And you know what, I’m pleased with it.

Make sure you check out the entire Living Like Little House series!

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  1. Thanks for all your hardwork and articles. It makes me put life into perspective too. I’ve grown since having kids that teaching them to value what they have and see the goodness in whatever situation is what makes life complete. I too am going to pray I had ma’s patience and awareness of gratefulness. Another great article – thank you!!

  2. I have been a long-time reader, since my son was born in 2011. I have always kept up with your site, on and off as time allowed, along with a handful of others. I still return to read these “archive” articles and they make me feel cheerful and hopeful. I love your plain, straightfoward writing style, but it is also what I would call evocative. It actually reminds me a lot of Laura Ingalls Wilder (I happen to be reading On the Banks of Plum Creek right now). I have written to you before, but wanted to write you again to tell you thank you. I am a suburban mom of two in south Florida, but I can feel the prairie grasses rustling when I read your wonderful stories and thoughts. Hugs and love

  3. Hello! I’ve been rereading articles and stories on your website throughout today and I’ve come across this! What interested me most and made me want to comment was your higher education journey. I left high school and went straight into a social work degree much to the horror of my high expecting teachers. I made it a semester before wanting to change to something more free so I chose creative writing. This lasted a year before I realised I didn’t want to spend my life writing things that other people wanted me to (much like your situation). In a roundabout way I competed a certificate in childcare and, wanting more structure, went into a diploma, now a bachelor, of education. I graduate next year!

    When I was 17 and finishing school I expected everything to go to plan but it certainly doesn’t and it takes so long to work out that you don’t want to be who you want to be at 17. Expectations never truly meet reality…