What is Bunburying?
Bunburying noun (uncountable)
1. (humorous) Avoiding one’s duties and responsibilities by claiming to have appointments to see a fictitious person.
In the play, Bunbury is a fictional and continuously ailing relative of the main character, who he uses as an excuse to get away from his structured life in the country. And now just for Heidi, one of my favorite quotes from The Importance of Being Earnest:
“I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever.”
And now that I've gone completely off track, I'd like to hand over the reins to Heidi - here to educate us all about how to live a Pioneer lifestyle!
I may not be a child of the prairie, but my parents were. They both grew up on farms in the Dakotas, very near places Laura spent time in her life. In fact, my dad’s small town in South Dakota was so close to De Smet, where the Wilders eventually settled, that they were high school rivals! To this day, it is not uncommon to walk in on my mom watching reruns of Little House on the Prairie in the afternoon on Hallmark (it’s on right before M*A*S*H* after all).
To say that I was enraptured by the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder as a child would be putting it mildly. I was obsessed. I didn’t play house. I played Little House. In the woods behind the family cabin you can still see two makeshift structures that were created by me as a young girl. One was a teepee, the other was my ‘Pioneer Place’. Pioneer Place was about the shoddiest moss covered, bug ridden stick fort you could ever find, but it was mine, and I loved it. One of my favorite places to spend time was at the local museum, which featured a one bedroom house similar to those the Ingalls lived in, as well as a dugout structure more like their home in On the Banks of Plum Creek. There I was able to mill corn, try on aprons and bonnets, and have my dreams rub up next to my reality. I grew up to work in that museum, and still visit whenever I am in town.
I may be a child of the mountains, but I spent a good amount of time living out my fantasies of Laura’s life when visiting the farm, cabin, or my own backyard. Turns out, you can still live a bit of the pioneer life as an adult! Here’s how:
Be prepared to leave the cabin in the woods:
My family’s cabin in Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota. Love it
here, but a few too many trees for homesteading.
Get yourself a trusty companion:
Laura had Jack, I have Sadie, squirrel treeing extraordinaire. Sure to scare off the fiercest of predators. Or point them out to you at least.
Enlist the services of a pair of ‘mustangs’:
You’ll need them on the road to pull your wagon, and on the farm to pull your plow! While my family does, in fact, have a pair of mustangs, the donkeys are much more friendly and cooperative with the camera. Also they’re much more likely to carry stuff for you, and we’ve used them on backpacking and hunting trips. The mustangs tend to just roll around or brush things off on trees.
Get comfy in temporary shelter:
Pioneering means a lot of nights in the back of the wagon, or out under the night sky. While I did the ‘night sky’ thing a lot in my youth, I’ve become a tent girl myself. My tent (the green one) is so swanky it has a hinged door. Eat your heart out pioneers.
Get used to seeing buffalo:
I realize herds of buffalo don’t roam the plains quite like they used to, but they’re still around on ranches throughout the plains region, and wild in and around Yellowstone in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. I could have shown you some real buffalo pictures, but I wouldn’t be in them as one should never attempt to take a picture this close to live buffalo (you hear me tourists?!).
DON’T eat the watermelon:
Bad watermelon may cause malaria. Excuse me, may cause fever ‘n’ ague. This particular watermelon is no exception. There has to be a reason whole thing was $4.
Take up a domestic hobby:
Look kids! I caught a big one! Maybe now our livestock will be safe and we can make a lovely carpet for the den.
*No Wocket’s were harmed in the making of this post. Well, maybe a little in the pride department.
Once you’ve settled, and the land is safe, have fun on the farm!
Sledding at my cousin’s farm in eastern South Dakota: hills optional. Look cold? This is the same regional climate Laura Ingalls Wilder dealt with in her day. Luckily, when you’re having fun on the prairie, you don’t always worry about being able to feel your extremities.
But finally, unless you’re sure that the land you’ve settled on is legally yours, don’t get too comfortable! You may be moving again soon...
Of course, if all of the above is too much work for you, you can always just buy a copy of Oregon Trail and try your luck.
I hope Pa fares better in your hands...
Thanks for joining us today Heidi! Heidi can be found on Goodreads, Twitter, and her blog Bunbury in the Stacks.