Nellie speaks French.

The actress who played Nellie was in Walnut Grove and signed our programs. She spoke French with Lucy and her cousin. Can you see Nellie in her? It was hard to remember that Nellie was a character, an actress.

One of the most all-American things I can think to do in Minnesota is to visit Walnut Grove, one of the home towns of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie books. I’m not sure what a comparable trip would look like in Djibouti (does Dheg Dheer, the cannibal woman of lore with one large ear and massive feet, have a childhood home?) but some aspects of the life Laura lived did make me think about Djibouti.

Life on the prairie was day to day, mainly focused on survival. Life on the prairie ebbed and flowed with the seasons and the weather. Locusts could destroy crops and lives and decades of labor. Fires and floods were devastating.

Community was everything. People relied on neighbors for help in crisis, support in religion, holiday celebrations, education, medical assistance.
People moved when they needed to and often stayed with family in periods of transition.

Brown eggs with bird poop and feathers.

The rich, snooty girl.

Livestock roamed in the streets and pulled carts and were almost as valued as human family members.

Simplicity. Hard work. Rest in the heat of midday. Mealtimes shared with family over food made from scratch and grown without flavor-reducing chemicals. Conservative clothing. Lack of electricity. Appreciation for water.

Splashing and falling in Plum Creek

The lack of time for leisure and luxury and so the lack of intricate, highly skilled art and literature but a rich oral culture.

Suffice it to say, I was struck by how similar life in Djibouti is at times to the way life was in the United States over a hundred years ago. There are iPhones and internet access and modern vehicles, of course. But many of the deeper values remain strikingly similar, as yet untouched by materialism and the striving after worldly success. The emphasis remains on family, relationships, and community.

I like this.

Did you grow up watching Little House on the Prairie?