O Pioneer

I've been reading pioneer girl fiction again. This time it was a Lauraine Snelling book. I often enjoy her because they take place in North Dakota, on land and in weather with which I am familiar. So it's easy for me to imagine. I'm so pregnant. Easy is good.

I always start the pioneer girl fiction a tinge envious. Life was so simple. You had clear cut jobs to do, and the motivation was survival. It was easy to rely on God and give Him the proper thanks for success, because you could just as easily lose it all in a fire, storm or drought as the neighbor down the river did. It was probably easier to live your life in focus; without tv, internet and ipods vying for your attention. When the fanciest mode of transportation had to be fed & watered.

And then, inevitably, someone in the book will give birth. And I will end every sentence I read with "Thank you, Jesus, for modern medicine. And air conditioning." I've been trying to temper my "wah, wah, I'm ginormously pregnant in sauna-like humidity" by thinking of my pioneer sisters. Giving birth in the soddy. While Husband milked the cows, because cows must be milked. When you were lucky if a neighbor wife could come help you, but if it was threshing season, you might just be lucky to have an 11-yr-old around to catch the baby while everyone else worked all hours just to get the wheat up before it rained.

No air conditioning. No drugs. No doctor (unless you were very lucky). No hospital monitors keeping track of you and the baby. No nurse bringing you peanut butter toast at 3 a.m. and taking the baby so you could sleep. NO AIR CONDITIONING. Just your 12-yr-old niece and some willow bark tea.

My pioneer sisters got married when the house was finished, not when the $10K dress could be altered and the DJ was available. But the barn came first. If they were ginormously pregnant through the summer, they still probably wore a long skirt and long-sleeves. Not only for fashion (and the modesty it demanded), but because there was work to be done in the fields and gardens, for which your skin should be covered. Livestock to be fed. Bread to make from scratch. Preserves to be put up and meat to be cured for a very, very long and harsh winter. Dinner to make for the threshing crew. Clothes to sew for the baby.

So I lay on my bed with an assortment of pillows, under my ceiling fan with the air conditioning blasting. It's the middle of the day, but I feel just a little tired and like it might be nice to put my feet up. And I read a chapter or two about the pioneer woman. Slaving away from dusk til dawn for the good of her family. While I sip some iced tea or lemonade with ice cubes that appear magically in my freezer. And keep tabs on the design jobs coming into email on my Blackberry. And I'll think about where we can maybe go out to eat, because it's too hot to cook and I just don't feel like it.

Somehow, I'll still feel a little hint of envy for her life. While I roll over and adjust my pillows to get more comfortable, and better feel the air conditioning.