The Long Winter, Chapter 28: Four Days' Blizzard

Guest post by Erin Blakemore (of The Heroine’s Bookshelf)

Meanwhile, back in De Smet…

Laura and Mary are taking a breather in the crisp outdoors only to learn that they distrust the sun.  Even the promise of codfish gravy can’t stop the bickering and sense of hopelessness … which is exacerbated by fears about the seed wheat, Almanzo and Cap, and the potential for another storm.

Sure enough, the wind starts to howl once more, and we’re treated to what I consider to be one of the book’s most memorable passages …Pa shaking his fist at the elements and daring the wind to howl, to beat them, to blow them down.  It is terrible to remember that Pa can’t play the fiddle anymore; his hands have been so stiffened by the bitter cold and unrelenting work that it’s just not going to happen.

This time, Laura’s the one to help them gather up their resolve.  She begins to sing “Song of the Freed Men” (only to be corrected by Pa and told to sing in B flat — did the Ingalls family have perfect pitch or is this just a sign of the more music-educated times?).

After taunting the storm with their singing, it’s time for bed.  Laura and Mary wonder if it’s okay to pray for Cap and Almanzo.  Mary prays for their redemption if it’s God’s will, to which Laura replies, “I think it ought to be.  They were doing their best.”  (Summary of the book’s theme, much?)

Four days later, the blizzard is still raging…and the last of the seed wheat has been placed in the coffee mill to grind.  They can only wait and hope (though Pa knows about Almanzo’s stored seed wheat).  Sure enough, the storm subsides and they look out the peepholes they’ve scratched out of the frost-covered windows, waiting for word on their fate.

Posted in The Long Winter
6 comments on “The Long Winter, Chapter 28: Four Days' Blizzard
  1. M. Murphy says:

    I always wondered why Laura or one of the other children didn’t learn to play the fiddle like Pa. I am from a musical family – I play the flute semi professionally – my son plays the trumpet in the Marine band – my daughters both sing – and I learned recently that I inherited this trait from my great grandfather, who played the violin (I was adopted so never knew this before – but my birth mom recently gave me his violin).

    Mary learned to play the organ and the Ingalls’ were obviously a very musical family. I understand that they probably didn’t have the extra money to buy other instruments, but it’s strange to me that Pa never taught any of his children to play.

  2. Åsa Hermansson says:

    Hmm, interesting thought. I have never questioned why the girls did not play the fiddle, maybe because I live in “The Old World”? Here in Sweden, the violin had sort of a daring, almost sexual touch to it some hundred years ago, at least in the countryside. We even have stories of a mythical being called the Näck, a man who were said to play the fiddle sitting naked in streams or brooks, playing so bewitchingly it made people go into the water and drown. I have always believed all fiddlers were male back then.

    This was perhaps before Laura’s days, but not so long before. More things were considered either male or female than we think of today. Somebody mentioned tending to cows as a women’s thing and tending to horses as a men’s thing in another thread on this site. Maybe little brother Freddie would have been the one Pa taught to play?

  3. jodi says:

    I also expected it was just not ladylike. Laura playing the fiddle? Over Ma’s dead body, LOL

  4. Linda says:

    I love the cover of the novel “Across The Rolling River” by Celia Wilkins with Pa as a boy playing his violin. I love the story as it talks about Pa playing it when he was young.

  5. Sandra Hume says:

    Linda, what is “Across the Rolling River”?