Mary Wood: A window on the world | TheUnion.com
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Mary Wood: A window on the world

Other Voices
Mary Wood

When I was six, our family moved to the state of Kansas, therefore much of the history I learned focused on that Midwestern state. The stories I most enjoyed were about early pioneers who took up homesteads on the prairie.

Because there was no timber, they often built soddies, cave-like dwellings which provided shelter.

“Wouldn’t that have been romantic,” I thought, “living far away from everyone else in a cute little place with the man I loved?”

Now, I’m a whole lot older and hopefully wiser. My home these days is on some acreage in Rough and Ready, and is shared by my husband, an old yellow cat, various animals passing through and the birds living in our big oak trees.

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Suddenly our current social distancing didn’t sound quite so bad.

Those early pioneers came to mind this morning as I ate my breakfast and grumbled about social distancing. My meal had been prepared in about five minutes with the help of an electric coffee pot and microwave. Hmm, they probably didn’t have those things in soddies, did they?

Another day of isolation stretched before me as I turned on the radio to check on world news before switching to a favorite music station. Then I paused to put a couple of pieces in the jigsaw puzzle set up on a card table near a sunny window. Windows! Those prairie homes were usually half dug in the ground and used blocks of sod as walls and roof. Hard to put many windows in that kind of construction.

After breakfast, I walked out to get our newspaper, which had been delivered to the box near our home. Guess that was another thing the pioneers didn’t have.

While many are feeling bored and lonely during this time of social distancing, I doubt if pioneer women were bored. They would have been busy gardening, milking, churning, baking, canning and helping with field work. I imagine they were exhausted, but probably not bored.

However, I’m positive they were lonely. Visiting or hearing from friends and family was difficult because farms were far apart and the few existing roads were poor. Now we have telephones, email, snail mail and things that go snap or twitter in our smart phones or computers to help us keep in touch. If we feel lonely, we simply need to pick up or turn on to reach friends all over the world. Wow!

Of course, life in a soddy probably wasn’t lonely when babies came along or when in-laws moved in. Wait a minute, my vision was of a romantic, isolated life with the man of my dreams, not one with crying babies and in-laws living in a tiny, dark isolated hovel. Yikes!

Suddenly our current social distancing didn’t sound quite so bad. I glanced over at the “man of my dreams,” — no, make that “my dreaming man” because he was on the couch working on his morning nap (not to be confused with his afternoon nap). The TV was on and the remote control was clutched tightly in his hand. Somehow, while he slept, the volume had increased and the channel had changed from the rerun he had been watching to a vacuum cleaner infomercial.

At that moment I decide to socially distance myself from him and the living room, feeling blessed that I could go to another room and turn on my computer to check on a few friends and relatives.

Then I went back to my puzzle, but found myself spending more and more time staring outside, very grateful for my beautiful window on the world.

Mary Wood lives in Rough and Ready.


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