The Laura Ingalls Wilder weekend in Pepin, Wisconsin, was a very successful one. The weather was great and the people were wonderful, as always. Well, the weather isn’t always great but the people are! This is a very popular event for Laura fans - especially the little girls. Laura’s birthplace has a big draw, even though the actual spot of her home is not really known.
There is a replica cabin along the highway that is open to the public; this is copied from descriptions that Laura had in her book “Little House in the Big Woods.” I had a guide point out the approximate spot of the actual cabin but that was on private land and a quite a ways from the highway.
This weekend is our “family reunion.” We feel so close to the group that meet every year for the old style craft demonstrations that they are our second family.
We arrive, in bits and pieces, from Friday afternoon to late Friday night, all of us setting up our period tents and our demonstration items. It usually takes us about two hours to set up but took a little longer this time, as we had a new bed and needed to figure out the layout with a double bed instead of two twins. The layout worked good but I have a plan for a different one when we go to Big Island in about ten days.
I need to talk about our new bed. I have wanted a double (I guess it’s called a “full” now-a-days) bed for a long time - takes less room in the tent and gives us more room to move around if we are stuck there, like last year when it rained up to three inches a day every day. The headboard is a lovely “foot” that came with a beautiful antique headboard previously owned by my father. He had taken the headboard out to get repaired just before the infamous Rapid City Flood and it was swept down the creek and never found. Dad kept the foot ever since then and last year gave it to us. I figured it would make a beautiful headboard and it does. I love the bed!!!
A lot of us go to the Latene’s for a chili supper and get-together. Tom and Kitty live in Pepin and were the ones to start the craft demonstrations. They put several tables together and we all sat around, either talking to someone at the end of the table or to someone right next to us – noisy, fun with good food and lots of laughs.
Saturday morning we rolled out of our nice new double bed (Peanut loved sleeping between us with her own pillow - Norm’s decision - “she needs a pillow, too!”). We got dressed in period clothing, walked to the kitchen were there were eggs and toast cooking, thanks to the great cooks, as well as Norm’s necessary coffee (my caffeine is a Dr. Pepper or Cherry Coke). Visitors started arriving very early and there were a lot of them, all day long. It’s nice to talk to people who are interested in our crafts and either want to learn or just want to know more about them.
The kitchen staff served dinner and a huge supper as well as a great breakfast on Saturday. Sunday we had a humongous breakfast and a great dinner. Sunday night was order-in pizza from Pizza Hut as we were all tearing down.
Most of my good friends were there - some were not able to come so I hope I can see them next year or further on down the road this year. The “family” was there - all the youngsters are skilled in woodwork. Aaron, Bethany, Nathan and little Christopher belong to Cindy and Gary (didn’t get a picture of Gary this year). Jasper, the potter, was next door to us, as usual. I go, every year, and pick at least one item off his shelf, tell him I’m taking it and settle up at the end of the event. This year I got a bud vase because Norm had cut one of my last roses to bring along. I also got a small teapot to go in my collection. Tom and Kitty, of course. Tom is a blacksmith / woodworker / artist extraordinare. Kitty is a spinner, a weaver and a tinsmith. We also have Pete and Sherri. Pete is a blacksmith (lots of those around) and Sheri is a spinner. She also makes sunbonnets and mob caps to sell to those who want to feel more like Laura Ingalls and others in her time period. Let’s see... Gary who helps Tom L and brought me a bunch of kitty litter boxes to be washed out and use for storage. Tom D, who is a woodworker (lots of THOSE, too). Dave J who is a “joiner” - he makes lovely boxes. Dave W who carves characters and makes fiddles. Lydia is a basket maker. A man who makes points from flint (can’t remember his name), a man who makes brooms (can’t remember his, name, either) and one who builds chairs (gosh, my memory is lousy right now!) My new friends, Saga (broom maker, photographer, artist, blacksmith) and Dan (blacksmith, woodworker - making spoons this weekend). All of these and a few more were there - seems like every year someone new joins us; Tom L and I were talking about where he would put the next person who showed up. Then there is the kitchen staff. These gals cook period correct foods in period correct ways. This is their demonstration and it also feeds the rest of us so we don't have to take time to cook, ourselves. Lynn runs the kitchen, doing most of the planning; Maureen, Patience and Kathryn help plan and help cook. It's hot work and hard, too, but the food they produce is heavenly. Every year people bring "offerings" to add to the food that is already purchased (chicken, hamburger, bacon, etc). This year we ended up with twenty dozen eggs but the clever gals finished the weekend with just two dozen left!
All of these people are very dear friends - even my new friend, Saga, is dear to me. She and I bonded instantly and had lots of lovely talks. She is also a Reiki Master and worked on my back Sunday afternoon which made the trip home a lot easier (thanks, Saga!).
The time I spend with each and every one of them is too short. I have to demonstrate spinning or weaving for the general public and can’t leave the tent often to go wandering. Otherwise, I’d spend all two days sitting under someone else’s tent, visiting.
So, that was our weekend last weekend. It’s taken me longer to recover from the trip than normally, but I’m almost back up to full speed (which Norm claims is “turtle speed”). I have started a new project on the loom for a wedding present in October. Candy and I keep saying we need to make things in advance for sudden things like this wedding, but never get caught up. But THIS time I put more warp on and hope to make some other things on it.
It’s been chilly and damp around here .... it was in the high thirties this morning and I turned the heat on for the second time in a week, since the sun wasn’t warming the house up. But it’s a beautiful fall day (if you are dressed warm enough); you have a beautiful day.