Just a different kind of pioneer

blogscan0001Now 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:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.”
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.

 ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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12 responses

  1. Love this Mama, a good word. Think I would like to have tried it though. I am really glad for the invention of the washing machine though. Imagine what the wet clothes would have looked like gathering up all the flying dust.

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  2. Hi, there! Thanks for visiting over at my place today and leaving a comment! Hope you’ll visit often!
    I love this post, and I most definitely agree: I would have made a horrible pioneer woman.
    Going to check out more of your posts now – looking forward to learning more about you!

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  3. You know, I’ve never thought so deeply about being a pioneer before! It always seemed so romantic in my head… but you’ve made some great points.

    That’s really neat that you’ve seen parts of The Oregon Trail. And I love your observation of the deepness of the ruts. You’re right. For something to have lasted so long it had to be quite the mark on the land. And to imagine riding in a wagon through those ruts — thanks for the enjoyable visual. 🙂

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    • Pioneer life would have scared the wits out of me, I think. I’m dead serious when I say that viewing that broad expanse of prairie in Oklahoma frightened me! On our move from the Pacific Northwest to the East a few years ago, we drove – 2 cars, 3 kids, cross country. And we stopped at spots along the Oregon trail and I’ve never forgotten seeing those ruts in the ground. Unbelievable! Glad you liked my post.

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  4. When I think of all the traveling I’ve done, I know it would never have been possible in the 19th century. Planes, trains, and hotels made it possible.
    No, I don’t think I would have made a very good pioneer woman… I think I would have stayed put because I’m really a homebody. When I watch westerns, I’ve wondered if I could have endured the inconveniences not to mention the hardships…no, I don’t think I would have pressed on out west for all the reasons you have listed..

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    • Yes, your dad cooked a squirrel!! In our kitchen, with my frying pan…a little, skinned squirrel. It smelled, it was disgusting, and I would have no part of eating it. Obviously, you weren’t here but were off at college. Oh the things that happened around here without your knowledge! 😉

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