Now I believe I’m made of pretty sturdy stuff, but I came to the conclusion a long time ago that I never would have been a pioneer woman back in days of old. Recently I read the poem, Pioneers, O Pioneers, by Walt Whitman.
“For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We, the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend, Pioneers! O pioneers!”
~ excerpt from Pioneers, O Pioneers
Reading it reminded me of my non-pioneer ways and prompted me to write the reasons why, had I been given the opportunity to travel westward into the frontier early in our country’s history, I would have stayed at home in the East.
Ten top reasons why I never could have been a pioneer woman:
- Wide open spaces as far as the eye can see scare me. Even though I grew up in the country, I had hills, woods, and neighbors. As a newlywed, my first experience on the prairie came in Oklahoma when my military hubby took me out on the range – you know where the deer and the antelope play? Where seldom is heard….any kind of word. We were in search of Geronimo’s grave and as I scanned the area on our jaunt, plains stretched out for miles and miles as far as I could see with no hills, no trees, no electric or telephone poles let alone houses, and I realized that’s what it looked like to pioneers traveling through – the original Oklahoma Sooners. Those wide open spaces caused my heart to palpitate and a fleeting moment of panic to set in.
- Riding in covered wagons. I’m not exactly the horse and buggy kind of person. Too much jostling, and that hard seat? Oh, my achy back! Add three kids in tow asking, “Are we there yet?” This Mama would lose her sanity! I thought I was being a real frontier mom when I drove a station wagon full of kids not a Conestoga.
- Wild animals startle me. An encounter with a snake slithering across my path left me frozen to my spot in shock as did my brush with that ol’ bear who moseyed around the corner of my house recently. When I think of pioneering, my mind conjures up rattlesnakes, buffalo, mountain lions, bears, and many other creatures of the wild. If the ride in the wagon hadn’t stiffened me up, the fright from wild animals would have.
- Packing issues. I am one of those “pack everything you might ever need” kind of people. Yes, I confess, I am an over achiever when it comes to packing. What if it turns cold? Need a warm jacket. It might rain. Need rain gear and umbrella. I never would fit all my family belongings that I deemed necessary for moving across country into one itty bitty wagon.
- Sleeping out under the stars. Don’t get me wrong, I love to gaze at the night sky and view an array of brightly twinkling stars. Sleep under them? Uh, no thanks. My version of camping is a hotel with no room service. Okay, not really, but you get the idea. I’m not much of a camper. Give me a comfy bed inside a cabin and running water with a hot shower and I can “camp.”
- Eating issues. My dad hunted when I was a kid, so I’ve tasted deer meat and I have one word for it – eww! I don’t like venison, rabbit, bear meat, or any other wild game. The day my son shot a squirrel and my husband cooked it in a pan on my stove, I thought I would die gagging. Heck, I don’t even like beef jerky! I suppose we could eat beans every day but that would bring another issue to mind and to my nose. Ewww, again.
- Which reminds me….bathroom issues. No rest stops back in those days. No clean restrooms with flushing toilets, sinks with hot water and soap. Digging your own latrine is definitely not my cup of tea, nor is squatting in the bushes. Enough said.
- Summer heat and no ice cubes. Call me a wimp, but I can’t stand hot temps. When the thermometer climbs and humidity rises, this gal wilts. The heat, dust, no shade, AND no ice? Since I must have ice cubes in my drinks even in the winter time, I’d be in a bad way unless maybe I was traveling through the wilds of snow-covered Alaska, and that might have a few problems of its own.
- Ruts in the trail. I’ve seen portions of the Oregon Trail in person and the ruts made in the countryside are still there to prove how deep the trail got! I can barely navigate the ruts left in my gravel driveway after a long, hard rainfall without groaning and moaning. I can’t imagine traveling thousands or even hundreds of miles that way.
- Isolation. Even though I like my alone time, I’m really a people person. I probably could have managed the camaraderie of a wagon train, but once situated in a final destination, out there on the homestead without a town or any nearby neighbors, I shudder to think about it. I may not like to keep up with the Joneses, but I still would like some Joneses around the corner or down the road.
I may not have been a pioneer back then, one who headed off into the frontier, preparing the way for others to follow. But I like to think that I do have some of the pioneer spirit described in this quote:
“There has to be this pioneer, the individual who has the courage, the ambition to overcome the obstacles that always develop when one tries to do something worthwhile, especially when it is new and different.” ~ AJ Meade
And today in my Opportunity book, Chapter 10, Page 3, I’m extremely grateful to be living in the 21st century and for a wee bit of pioneer spirit that keeps me forging ahead, tackling life’s obstacles, and attempting to encourage or inspire someone else. I’m just a different kind of pioneer.
Dorothy should have been at my house yesterday. In her red shoes. On the yellow brick road. Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion tagging along.
The Wizard of Oz has always been one of my favorite movies of all time. When I was a child, I always watched it every time a television station broadcast it, usually at Thanksgiving. My kids grew up watching it as well.
We often got a kick out of singing, “Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road, follow, follow, follow …” in our best munchkin voices. One of the lines from the movie that has stuck with me over the years is when Dorothy and her odd friends chant, “Lions and tigers and bears…oh my!”
I had an “Oh My!” moment yesterday on Page 1, Chapter 9, in my Opportunity book. On my front porch.
Hubby arrived home from work, changed his clothes, and ventured off to his civic club meeting. Home alone for a couple of hours, with just kitty for company, I decided to phone one of my best friends, Leigh, and chat awhile. My front porch swing beckoned me, so I grabbed a glass of iced tea, my cell phone, and dialed her.
We chatted and gabbed and talked….as we always do….for quite some time. Still full daylight, dusk wasn’t falling yet, and I fully intended to stay parked on the swing in the cool evening air discussing life with my long-time friend until one of two things occurred – either darkness descended or hubby came home.
But my porch swing reverie was cut short when I experienced a major “OH MY!” moment. Right in the middle of an interesting story Leigh was telling, I noticed my cat scurrying from the sidewalk onto the porch. I thought it was odd that she was kind of slinking along and came immediately to me. Then I saw it. OH MY!
A black snout emerged from around the corner where our front porch meets the garage. My first thought was “Whose big black dog is running loose?”
Then I felt those fingers of fear gripping me and it felt like my heart jumped into my throat when I realized it wasn’t a dog! That snout belonged to a really large head and that head was attached to an animal way too big to be a canine. It was a BEAR!
A black bear lumbered into full view about 40 feet or so from where I sat. OH MY! I literally froze on the swing, whispered into my cell phone in a tiny, quiet voice, “I’m not going to talk because I’m freaking out right now.” Leigh said, “What’s wrong?” And I couldn’t answer as I sat perfectly still, eyes locked on that black creature.
The bear took a couple steps, looked right at me, and back tracked a step or so. I was terrified it was going to come up on the porch when it took another step forward. Right then, a neighbor across and down the road from our house, started mowing along his steep driveway. The noise of his tractor evidently frightened the bear enough that it retreated and disappeared around the corner of my garage. OH MY!
I gathered up enough wits to grab my iced tea (didn’t want to entice that bear ONTO the porch for something sweet) and to sprint to the front door, rush inside the house – the cat beat me in though! – and lock the door. Once inside, heart pounding and feeling totally incredulous, I told Leigh, “Oh. My. Gosh. I just saw a BEAR in my yard!”
And then she freaked out and, good friend that she is, listened as I gushed frantically about what just transpired and how it scared the daylights out of me! OH MY! I nervously looked out my windows, but the bear wasn’t in the front yard. I went to the back of the house, looked out the kitchen windows, still babbling – probably incoherently – to my friend. No bear there either.
Where did it go? I can only assume it hurried down the hill behind my house and into the brush. It seemed gone, but I fought off fear that it would come back. Leigh was just relieved that I wasn’t going crazy or seriously harmed or something. She laughed to calm my nerves and jokingly told me at first she couldn’t figure out what she had said that freaked me out so much. OH MY!
Needless to say, I stayed in the house until hubby came home then repeated my “OH MY” moment for him. I told him I thought my heart might have finally started beating normally, but that my “OH MY” moment had startled the heck out of me. He couldn’t believe it either. We’ve lived in this house for over 11 years now, and we have never, ever seen a bear in our yard – lots of other critters, never a bear!
We suspect this creature of the wild had visited our garden and was making its way to a scrumptious treat on the other side of our house. That’s where the raspberry bushes are and they just started producing their second crop of berries.
As I’m writing this post, I’m discovering two things. First, I didn’t have my camera on the porch with me, so I don’t have a picture of my visitor, so this picture I found will suffice (it looked just like this!).
And secondly, I don’t want to feed the bears!!! I don’t want them visiting my yard or coming so near my house for a free lunch! I prefer seeing bears from a distance or at the zoo, not a few feet from my front porch swing!
And I’ll tell you another thing….it’s bad enough being startled by a bear….but if I see a lion in my yard…or a tiger….I’m moving!! Lions and tigers AND bears?? OH MY! Dorothy, move over, I’m coming back to Kansas.