April 2018

Saturday, May 7, 2011

O, Pioneer!

If I had lived in the time of U.S. Westward expansion, I would not have been a pioneer. I love to travel and to see new lands and new ways of living, but I also love bathrrom facilities and timely, balanced meals.

I wonder if people got wagon-sick as they crossed the plains like people get car-sick now. With all the tedious bumping, I would have gotten wagon-sick. If I had been in the Donner party, I would have been the first to go. I would have gone before the horses. I just can't skip a meal.

Pioneer women got up before the crack of dawn to lug in the firewood and get the home fires burning. They tilled the rocky soil, planted and nurtured their gardens, and split wood for their amusement. I like to sleep until 10 a.m., watch a hummingbird flit about the garden while I sip a glass of fine wine, and lie by the gas logs fire (cleaning ashes is for pioneer women and Cinderellas, and I'm neither) while Ann reads me a good book.

I have surprised Ann on our travels. Since I have loved to travel in somewhat remote developing areas, Ann was surprised to see how squeamish I was about toilets in Tanzania and Ethiopia and El Salvador. I'm also squeamish about honey-buckets.

My friend Chris talked this morning about how she could manage rural Mexico's squat toilets (really a hole in the floor) because of the years she lived in Asia, but she just couldn't get used to paying the lady by the door per square of toilet paper. Chris's Spanish isn't so good, so she just flashes fist fulls of fingers and hands over all of her money.

Chris wouldn't be a pioneer either. In fact, she and I would probably still be in Europe somewhere if we had been born back in the pioneer days.

I think about this often. In fact, I divide my friends into the people who might have been good pioneers and those who would not. I admire those who would have been good pioneers, but I would not have travelled with them.

Ann would have been a good pioneer: she pops up in the early morning dark ready to take on the day. Marie, too, is a hardy soul. She likes to backpack, and years ago she told me that she hauled a 60 pound backpack around a mountain. She wasn't bragging, but I thought to myself, "I'll bet she was a nice pioneer lady in another life." My maternal grandmother could have been a pioneer woman, too, but she was an exception in our family. The rest of us would still be in England with Chris.

I'm glad for all the hardy souls in this world. Thank you for making my life better. Mary

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