We are reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder aloud to Norah. The book was the base of the popular television series "Little House on the Prairie." One of my best friend's bought the series of books for Norah's fourth birthday.

The story starts as the family prepares for a long winter. I am already fascinated with what I've learned about the ways settlers preserved their meat and stored their food. They'd wait to slaughter their pigs, for example, until the ground was cold enough to keep the meat frozen. They'd make a smoker or "smoke house" out of a hollow log with a roof and door, slowly burning wood chips inside to smoke their meats dry. They'd also hang their spiced hams, dried herbs and vegetables in the attic, which happened to fill their homes with all sorts of pleasing scents. I am convinced this is why we still associate the smell of strong spices with Autumn. I'll have to resort to using Glade Plug Ins to get the same effect in my house this holiday season. The book has helped me recognize more of the origins of our traditions and realize how much farther removed we are from the way things began.


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