Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lovely Literary Geek Posts: Wilder Weather

I've had a simply exhausting week -- just the normal exhaustion with grading deadlines on top of it, which has meant not enough sleep for three nights running. And boy, do I feel it. At 44, one does not burn the candle at both ends. The candle burns you!

Be that as it may, utter and total exhaustion has its interesting moments. It sometimes seems to make me hear and see things with unusual clarity, followed (of course) by bouts of raucous giggling. Presidential debates, for instance, can seem a whole lot funnier and a lot less dire when you hear them in sleep-deprived condition. (Sometimes the lack of sleep can pitch me face first into despair...but just as often, it's likely to toss me off the cliff of hilarity. I prefer the latter.)

The other thing that seems to sharpen when I'm tired is my geekiness detector. I use geek here in the most loving way possible. One of the things that delights me about the world of the internet is that it introduces you to other people in the world who have crazy obsessions like your's. Well, sometimes like your's and sometimes quite different, but all in a similar "I just love to talk about this/read about this/research about this/spout fascinating facts about this" vein. I am particularly fond of finding fellow literary geeks, especially when their passions correspond at least somewhat with my own reading passions.

So I was delighted when, just yesterday, I stumbled across a blog called Wilder Weather. It's about...can you guess? can you? Yes, you can! It's about the weather in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books, and seeing that such a blog exists made me absurdly happy. The blogger, Barbara Mayes Boustead, is serious about this stuff. She's a writer and history enthusiast who is also an honest to goodness meteorologist and climatologist and she loves tracking down cool facts about the weather in Wilder's books. Did you know that October 15th was the 131st anniversary of the blizzard that marked the beginning of the Long Winter? Now you do, and your life is richer because of it. I know mine is!

The weather in Laura's books has always fascinated me just as much as the food. I was the kind of kid who played "Long Winter" -- I would bundle myself up in blankets and eat bits of plain bread without any butter  (I think I toasted it to make it dry and hard) while I imagined that the wind was howling outside and the snow pouring down and the trains couldn't possibly get through and we were all going to starve before spring. (Little literary geek. Yes.)

When I grew up, my ongoing fascination with the books, especially as my daughter grew old enough to read them/listen to them, got me interested in learning more about 19th century winters on the prairie.  I ended up reading David Laskin's The Children's Blizzard (if you have any interest in the subject at all, this book is a must-read...please read my review at the link to see why). Then I turned to the amazing poems in Ted Kooser's The Blizzard Voices. I wrote about that book in a review titled "Small Poems Like Landmarks in a Storm." own geek credentials on this subject are pretty high, but not nearly as high as this delightful blogger who is working on a book (oh hooray) about Wilder Weather. As you can imagine, I plan to hunker down with that when it's finally published...probably while wrapped in a blanket and chomping on dry toast.

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