2/4/09

I owe it all to Laura Ingalls Wilder

Lately I've been thinking a lot about style. A frivolous line of thought, I'm sure. Nonetheless, it has captured my mind. I've not been thinking much about clothing style, but about the style of my home, about the way I want it to look and feel when people come in, about the way I feel when I'm there. The problem is, I have never been able to figure out what my style is. I've even taken quizzes that are supposed to help you figure out what your decorating style should be. They were inconclusive. I wasn't even "eclectic." I was just "unknown."

So lately I've been trying to refine my tastes. I've been trying to bring together elements of my life that I love and incorporate it into our home. It has been a challenge.

Over Christmas break, I discovered Anthroplogie at Woodfield Mall. Wow, was it perfect for me! I cannot think of a store I have ever loved more. I came out of there with a fresh perspective and tons of inspiration. When I came home, however, I was still having a hard time putting it all together... until tonight.

Tonight I had a self-revelation. Tonight I figured out what to call my style. I'm a modern girl with a prairie flare. It makes so much sense to me for so many reasons.

I could never decide as a child whether I liked living in town with my mom, or being in the country with my dad more. I have so many wonderful memories in both places. To this day, I cannot make up my mind.

I love the benefits of being in town, being close neighbors and friends, restaurants and places to go out; everything is at our fingertips. On the other hand, my heart swells to think of our family farm, acre upon acre of rich, black soil, green grass beneath my bare feet, gigantic, old oak trees, cows in the pasture, adventures in the woods with my cousins, and nothing but the sounds of nature for miles.

I've come to the conclusion that I want my home to be in town (or even a large city), but I still want that feeling I get when I am on the Johnson farm.

What does this all have to do with Laura Ingalls Wilder, you ask? I'll explain.

When I was very young, I did not like being at my dad's house. There were a number of reasons. Mostly, I think it is because I was bored. I had far more luxuries at my mother's house. All of my best toys were there. I had a pool. I had cable television, and a TV in my bedroom. I had air conditioning. I had sixty Barbies and tons of other dolls. I had dress-up clothes and my mother's perfume. I had a cat. I had my best friend, Erin, next door.

At some point between the ages of 9-11, however, my attitudes began to change. I can only attribute this change to the books I was reading at the time. I distinctly remember books becoming alive to me in 4th grade. I was reading The Secret Garden, Charlotte's Web, Anne of Green Gables, and most importantly, The Little House series.

As I opened the pages of Little House in the Big Woods, I no longer felt bored or unfortunate to be in the country, I felt blessed. I began to see all the adventure and opportunities for imagination that surrounded me. I put on my Little House outfit (a long flowery skirt and a bonnet) and began prancing through the yard. I remember bounding across the lawn with glee and shouting at my dad that I wished we had a covered wagon.

On our 36 acre farm there is a pond, two very old farmhouses (one with a secret stair case), several barns, beautiful gardens full of flowers and vegetables, hills that were, according to my older cousins, haunted by the ghosts of Indians, and so much more. If you cross the property line through the woods, you'll find an 19th century private cemetery that belonged to the family that originally built our farm.

I am so happy that I read those books. They truly helped me to appreciate the history and adventure that was beneath my feet. It was not until tonight that I realized how I am influenced by them to this day.

I can look around now and see that my home is some odd blend of my mother's more sophisticated taste, and the earthiness of the Johnson farm. I can look around and see that my taste is my own and that it doesn't have to fit the definitions of any design book. I owe it all to Laura.

"When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does." -Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan), You've Got Mail

1 comment:

Shannon Anderson said...

I like this... I still have no idea what to call my style. I'm not even sure that I really have one. :D anyway I hear ya with loving both the country and the city. I'm not really sure where my heart belongs, I'm pretty sure it belongs to both.