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Crossing The River This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Long before I could read on my own, my mother patiently sat down with me every day and transported us from our living room to the woods of Wisconsin and into the lives of the Ingalls family. The Little House books, written by Laura Ingalls, were expensive, hard-covered extravagances that were reserved for birthdays and Christmas gifts. My literary life began with images of making hogshead cheese, of sleigh rides and dances, of an overladen covered wagon struggling to cross a raging river, of the vast Kansas prairie, and of a log cabin with a single, priceless glass window. Images of a stubborn little girl loving her dog, helping her blind sister, loving her parents, and letting her hair blow in a hot wind when she should have a bonnet on, but couldn't stand the constriction.

Soon enough I possessed the ability to read on my own, and continued in the account of a life that seemed so new and exciting. I ravenously consumed every book in the series, memorizing each one in the six month span in which they arrived. But all good things must end, and the last book arrived, wrapped and waiting for me. I went through it slowly, knowing it was the last time I would read a Little House book for the first time

I moved on, read other books, and reread Laura's. It seems to me now that so much of my childhood and current dreams are rooted in the story of Laura's life. Even my choice of toys. Instead of the usual plastic jungles of gadgets and technological wonders lusted after by teenagers, my greatest wish for an entire year preceding Christmas was to own the Lincoln log set to end all Lincoln log sets. Plastic farm animals and cowboys were in ample supply, and my cattle herd had been slowly growing over the years. But I needed more logs! I had to have the 468-piece set. The 200-piece set just wouldn't do it anymore.

Christmas came and the logs arrived. I spent hours building ranch empire, houses, multiple barns, laying out the fencing, arranging the livestock. I kept after my parents - when are we going out West? When would we finally get beyond the Mississippi? I dreamed and read so much about it, I felt like I knew the West and belonged there. And then, finally, we went: Wyoming, land of my dreams. All the years of riding lessons and reading, it had all come together. There I was, loping along in my pride-and-joy cowboy boots through an enormous land controlled only by nature. Nothing created by man was anywhere in sight. I was ecstatic. A trail dinner over a campfire, and a ride into the sunset. What more could I ask for? I was there. I'd crossed the river.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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