Arctophagy and the Mysteries of Boyhood
The Wee’an enjoyed having Farmer Boy read to him tremendously, but he will not, I said will not be persuaded to listen to Little House in the Big Woods because it is about girls. But they do eat a bear. I mean for crying out loud, they eat a bear. I should think shooting and eating a honking great bear ought to cancel out any number of girls, but the cold hard facts prove otherwise.
Remember the beginning of The Long Winter, when Laura had been out haying in the sun, and she finally drinks some ginger-water after enduring such agonizing thirst?
She was thirsty, then she was thirstier, and then she was so thirsty that she could think of nothing else. It seemed forever till when Carrie came lugging the jug half-full.
Pa told Laura to drink first, but not too much. Nothing was ever so good as that cool wetness going down her throat. . . .
Ma had sent them ginger-water. She had sweetened the cool well-water with sugar, flavored it with vinegar, and put in plenty of ginger to warm their stomachs so they could drink till they were not thirsty. . . . Such a treat made that ordinary day into a special day, the first day that Laura helped in the haying.
That’s what it’s like rereading these books.
This site has Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Gingerbread, introduced with a letter in her own hand.