I am sitting in a field in Walnut Grove.
We found an old unused lane and have parked the van for the night. We are on the top of a small knoll with a small creek running just below us. The sun has just set giving us a quiet display in the cloudy sky. The only light is a small remnant of the sunset on the western horizon. The silence is complete. No city lights, no traffic noise. This must have been what Laura Ingles heard as she drifted to sleep those many years ago. Who hasn’t enjoyed seeing that show? I confess I was a fan. It was one of my favorites at the time it was showing. As I sit here in the silence I can picture the family gathered around at night with pa playing the fiddle and the girls dancing the jig. I can only picture the TV family, yet I know that it was all based on Laura’s own recollections.
We woke up Sunday morning in Iowa
and drove into Minnesota to the small town of Harmony. The GPS showed us we were close to a Lutheran Church so we checked it out and sure enough, we were just in time for the 9:30 service. I miss my own church, St Paul’s in Keswick and John’s preaching. I miss the music. I wanted to go to a worship service. The Harmony church was not the place for worship. The choir was large and sang beautifully. I felt that I was at a concert. The service was out of a book. I prefer to participate.
After church, we decided to head for Mankato, Minnesota. I remember the name from the “Little House on the Prairie” There are a lot of Amish in the area. We passed a large number of buggies all heading into town. We wandered around the town, checking into shops and galleries, looking at the wooden furniture and chatting to store owners. It appears that the Amish are not regarded very highly as they do not have to pay taxes because it is against their religion. They don’t have telephones yet come into town and ask to use the phone at the stores. They even sell their goods on the internet; however claim they do not believe in having the modern conveniences like electricity in their homes. A bit hypocritical?
We passed through the town of Sleepy Eye. I was surprised it did exist. We got out and took a walk around town to stretch our legs. The town was indeed sleepy this afternoon, nothing open on a Sunday.
Minnesota has a unique way of naming their roads. We were driving on a dirt road, way out in the farmland. The name of the road: 305th street. The numbers just keep going from one end of the state to the other? We are not sure, but are keeping our “eyes peeled”. We want to find out. I have enjoyed driving through the countryside, stopping to take pictures here and there. We have found that in most small towns, the main streets are lined with closed up shops. Century old buildings now stand empty, for sale or for rent signs pasted on their dirty windows, each one in need of repair. This is the passing of an era. Main Street America has moved to the edge of town. Wal-Mart and Lowes, Burger King and Dairy Queen instead of Oelson’s Mercantile and Nellie’s Diner.
I am updating this morning from a Wal-Mart in South Dakota. After we woke up in the field, we went into Walnut Grove and had a look around and ate our breakfast at a local park. A tiny little town with a “Laura Ingles” museum, of course. We didn’t wait for it to open but headed west.