Friday, January 15, 2010

New Year's Resolution Homestead Style

A New Life
by Tina Miller

Well, 2010 is finally here. Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? Perhaps you’d like to lose a couple pounds or eat a little better, but whatever it is you resolve to do it will no doubt improve your life in some way. How did Homesteaders improve their lives? It was a lot of hard work to live on the prairie. Nothing came easy. A person had to wear many hats, farmer, carpenter, mechanic, baker, seamstress and more.

But they improved their lives by coming west and homesteading and trying to make a better life for themselves. This wasn’t always easy. Bess Streeter Aldrich described the journey to Nebraska of her famed character Abbie Deal with her husband Will in A Lantern in Her Hand in this way:

"Abbie’s heart was in her throat. Oh, stop the wind rushing by. Stop Time for a few minutes, until she could think whether this move was the thing to do. Life was not right. It was not meant that you should leave your own this way. It was not meant that weeks and weeks of travel should separate you from your folks" (Aldrich, p. 65).

So why did Abbie go? Was the promise of a new life so strong? Perhaps for some, but in Abbie’s case it was:

"Only one thing gave her strength for the parting. Only one thing gave her courage to make the long journey to the raw new state. Her love for Will. Abbie’s love for her husband had retained its sweetness and its ardor. And in her heart she knew that as much as she cared for her people, as dear as were her mother and sisters and the old settlement to her, - they did not outweigh her love for him. If being with Will meant making a new home in a far, unsettled country, why, then she chose to journey bravely to the far unsettled country" (Aldrich, p. 65).

And what did her husband Will think about their moving west?

"Will was boyishly gay. For the first time he felt free from the “the folks”- his own master. “Well, here we go.” He cracked the long black snaky looking whip. “We’ll come back rich.” He laughed in excitement.
The wagon lurched, - steadied, - moved on. “Good-by ... good-by ... good-by ..." (Aldrich, p. 66).

So although moving west was not easy for many reasons, thousands made the journey and made a new life for themselves. Have you ever considered that for a New Year’s resolution?

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