Happy Birthday to Almanzo!

Close together, Laura and Carrie looked out from the edge of the standing grass. The hayfield was not  Pa’s hayfield. A strange wagon stood there and on its rack was an enormous load of hay. On the high top of that load, up against the blinding sky, a boy was lying. He lay on his stomach, his chin on his hands and his feet in the air.

The strange man lifted up a huge forkful of hay and pitched it onto the boy. It buried him and he scrambled up out of it, laughing and shaking hay off his head and his shoulders. He had black hair and blue eyes and his face and his arms were sunburned brown.

He stood up on the high load of hay against the sky and saw Laura. He said, “Hello there!” They both stood watching Laura and Carrie come out of the tall standing grass—like rabbits, Laura thought. She wanted to turn and run back into hiding.

“I thought Pa was here,” she said, while Carrie stood small and still behind her.

The man said, “We haven’t seen anybody around here. Who is your Pa?” The boy told him, “Mr. Ingalls. Isn’t he?” he asked Laura. He was still looking at her.

“Yes,” she said, and she looked at the horses hitched to the wagon. She had seen those beautiful horses before, their haunches gleaming in the sun and the black manes glossy on their glossy necks. They were the Wilder boys’ horses. The man and boy must be the Wilder brothers.

“I can see him from here. He’s just over there,” the boy said. Laura looked up and saw him pointing. His blue eyes twinkled down at her as if he had known her a long time.

– The Long Winter, Chapter 2: An Errand To Town

Happy Birthday Almanzo Wilder, born this day in 1857.

Posted in Almanzo Wilder
6 comments on “Happy Birthday to Almanzo!
  1. Jen E says:

    The beginning of an epic romance. Epic, I say! lol

  2. Adkmilkmaid says:

    I live about 45 minutes from Almanzo’s homestead in New York. For anyone who has not been there, it’s a great trip. The house still stands and the big barns have been entirely rebuilt.

    Though of course I love all of Laura’s writing about her dear Man of the Place, both as child and future husband, I also enjoy the portrait of Almanzo (and Eliza Jane) that Rose wrote in her novel FREE LAND. His love of his horses, and her incomparable bossiness, are both beautifully expanded and preserved.

    Happy birthday, Manly.

  3. mrswilder says:

    I absolutly LOVE Almanzo! He’s got great traits; the kind a boy could look up to. He is serious and is hard working, but knows how to have fun. The few parts where he is humorous always make me laugh! Not to mention, he’s also handsome! 😉 Happy Birthday Almanzo, you will always be the ‘Manly’ in my life.

  4. Heidi Berger says:

    My husband and I stopped by the Wilder Homestead just outside Malone New York in October 2012. The buildings were closed for the season unfortunately but we were still able to wander the grounds and peak inside the kitchen windows. We stopped by Trout River imagining them washing the sheep there and the kids trudging off to school, then drove around trying to figure out where the schoolhouse was that the Wilder children had attended, someone had stated that it still was there. ( Laura’s original schoolhouse in DeSmet is still around, was used as a residence for many years.) We found nothing. Malone is a nice town with locations that were mentioned in Farmer Boy, the church, town square, the Academy. the cemetery has several of Almanzo’s relatives buried there. The grave sites have the family name on a sign near where they all are. A trip well worth taking and will visit again next time when the site is open.

  5. Melissa says:

    Aww.. Happy Birthday Almanzo! It has just been recently that I realized how stunning that scene is. It seems from the beginning they had a bond that was just meant to be.

    I would love to visit the Malone homesite someday; it sounds wonderful!

  6. Melanie Stringer says:

    This scene is such a great example of foreshadowing, particularly for young readers who are learning basic literary devices. But I always chuckle at the idea of Manly being a “boy” since, even though LIW shaved a few years off his real age (he was actually 22 when he first came to Dakota) the character would still be at least 18 or 19-I think most 12-year-old girls then or now would think a boy that old was a “man!”

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