Where dreams are made By Pamela...


January 06, 2002|By Special to the Sun


Where dreams are made

By Pamela Grebow Ehrenberg


In 1980, I used $17 of carefully hoarded birthday money to buy a complete set of Little House on the Prairie paperbacks in a yellow cardboard case. I wrote my name in the designated spot and began rereading the books I had already started to memorize from checking them out so often from the library.

That year, Monday night bedtime was extended so I could watch the Little House on the Prairie TV show. The stories were different from the books, but the characters were the same: Ma, Pa, Mary, Carrie and the strong, heroic Laura.

I adored Laura. I cheered her bravery when the farm was attacked by locusts, and I marveled when she found her way home in a blizzard by following a length of clothesline. Mostly, though, I admired her for sticking by who she was: stubborn and athletic when girls were supposed to be clean and well-behaved. She was a frog-loving farm girl, while town girls like Nellie Olsen seemed to have all the advantages.

I wanted to be Laura. I wanted to battle blizzards and locusts and overcome my own Nellie Olsens, and, just like Little House author Laura Ingalls Wilder, I wanted to grow up and write books.

The TV series ended, and I discovered the joy of reading books I hadn't already memorized. Last summer, making plans to attend a wedding in Minneapolis, I remembered: Weren't some of the Little House books set in Minnesota?

Unfortunately, Walnut Grove, Minn. (home to some of the books and the TV series), was too long a drive from Minneapolis. But much closer was Pepin, Wis., where Laura Ingalls Wilder was born.

So my husband and I extended our trip to include a drive around beautiful Lake Pepin and a tour of the log cabin that was a replica of the home where Ma and Pa Ingalls gave birth to my childhood hero.

Afterward, we drove two miles to the Little House gift shop and three miles on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. I bought a book and gazed at some farm implements, but none of that compared: I had breathed the air of Pepin, Wis., and stood on the spot where Laura Ingalls Wilder was born.

Since 1980, I've battled a number of mid-Atlantic "blizzards" -- armed with microwave popcorn. I even survived a locust plague when an army of cicadas invaded Baltimore in 1989. As for outwitting Nellie Olsen and publishing children's books, I'm still working on those. But the Wilder birthplace reminded me, as powerfully as Laura convinced me 20 years ago, that anything is possible.

Pamela Grebow Ehrenberg lives in Washington.


Just dropping by

By Ralph Mirarchi, Fallston

This photo was taken from the Renaissance Grand Hotel beach in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. I was enjoying the warmth of the January weather and watching the sailboats coming across the water and the seagulls diving, and as I took this picture, a seagull flew right in front of me.

Lincoln City, England

Winn Flannery, Baltimore

"Every time my wife, Sylvia, and I visit my mother in Lincoln City, we walk up the old cobblestones of Steep Hill to visit Lincoln Castle (right). Although the castle is spectacular, Lincoln City is best known for its towering cathedral. Along with a few other buildings built around the 12th century, the Lincoln Cathedral is a stone's throw away from Lincoln Castle. All of this history is so close together."

Big Sur, Calif.

Monyette Pitts, Baltimore

"If you travel through the Big Sur region of California's coastal Highway 1, look for the hidden turnoff of Sycamore Canyon Road and follow it to a secluded stretch of sand and rock called Pfeiffer Beach, where you can perhaps watch a lone surfer's bid to beat the setting sun for that last run of the day."


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