Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, July 27, 2006

O Pioneers!

by Julie Coulter Bellon

On Monday, July 24th, Pioneer Day in Utah, my two oldest children left to go on a Pioneer Trek in Wyoming, on the original trail that the pioneers took. Well, as you can imagine, we've spent the last few weeks getting them ready for this trek, including several hikes, and making pioneer clothes. I'm proud to say I made my daughter two pair of bloomers and two long skirts–which, if you knew me, you would know this is a huge accomplishment.

They went to meet their "ma and pa" and the rest of the ten children who would be in their family, as well as the "baby" they would be lugging around, which was really made of rice. My daughter said her "ma" thought the baby was rather ugly in a plaid outfit and feet as big as its legs, but that she planned to make it a cuter outfit since no one could love something that ugly. We packed all of their things in a five gallon bucket–which was not easy for my son who is six foot three and doesn't have small clothing items that easily fit in a bucket. As they dressed in their pioneer gear and we got up at three in the morning to see them off, I sat there in the dark parking lot, looking at the four hundred other people in pioneer clothing and thought to myself, I would have made a horrible pioneer. While we waited for the "families" to get organized and loaded on the buses, I made a list of ten reasons why I would have made a horrible pioneer.

1. I love air conditioning
2. I love modern medicine, especially during labor and delivery. I also like modern dentistry. Have you ever seen what pioneer dentists used?
3. I don't think I'd look good in bonnets. I'd have horrible flat hat hair all the time. I also like to wear jeans or short-sleeved shirts.
4. If I don't feel like making dinner, I can run to KFC, Wendy's, or Subway. Pioneers had to make their own KFC from whatever their husband shot and brought back for dinner. Ew.
5. I love computers and writing my books on them. No quill pens, or parchment, or runny ink, or having to scribble out whole sections if I make a mistake. Also, a pioneer woman probably wouldn't have much time to be writing books.
6. I hate spiders, rodents, and creepy crawly things. If I found one in my tent or wagon I probably would have deafened anyone within a twelve mile radius of my screaming voice.
7. I have a black thumb and kill every plant I've ever owned. No matter what I do, watering, talking to it, the plant just seems to instinctively know it's me and dies. Thankfully my husband is an excellent gardener, or our family probably would have starved on the pioneer trail.
8. I love having a video camera and lots of pictures of my kids when they were little. Although I realize that cameras and video probably hadn't been invented in pioneer times because everyone had horrible flat hat hair and no one wanted a picture of that. Or maybe it was the bad teeth from pioneer dentistry. Have you ever seen pioneer pictures? No one is smiling. I'll wager there's a reason for that.
9. I'm not really a great seamstress or quilter. I would have been the one at all the quilting bees with a bandage on every finger from pricking myself with the needle.
10. I love my stove and my microwave. Cooking over an open fire? Well, I guess it might have worked if my family could have gotten used to eating burnt offerings every day.

So you can see why I was "held back" for this dispensation and not the pioneer one. Someone obviously had mercy upon me and my family.

The "families" of my children also had to come up with a family motto for the trek. Some families did spiritual mottos, like "FAITH–Fun, Attitude, Integrity, Truth and Honor" or "Many hands make light work." Other families went with fun mottos like, "Keep to the Code,"or "Never Give Up, Never Surrender." My personal favorite however, was "Keep the Strong, Eat the Weak." (No, they weren't the Donner party). I would have loved to hear them shouting their family motto across the plains.

My children get home today and I'm really excited to hear how it all went. I was telling my mother in Canada about the trek, and how spiritual and memorable it would hopefully be for my children, and she said, "Of course it will be memorable. You always remember when you've been tortured."

For me, I hope they remember more than the torture, and that this experience will be something they can reflect on and remember as a good thing—a reminder of the perseverance, hard work and strength that our ancestors had to draw upon so that we could have the comforts we enjoy today. I know I, for one, am extremely grateful as I sit here at my computer, in my air-conditioned home, wearing jeans and a short-sleeved shirt, with no bonnet in sight and many fast food choices just down the road.


3 Comments:

At 7/27/2006 8:42 PM, Anonymous rakrose said...

"Of course it will be memorable. You always remember when you've been tortured."

I now have milk spewed all over my keyboard. Thanks a lot for that one!

 
At 7/27/2006 11:09 PM, Anonymous Jennie said...

Julie, you left out the most important blessing of not being a pioneer--indoor plumbing! My earliest memory of home is of what today's realtors would describe as two bedrooms and a path. From the day we moved to a house with running water (hot and cold), a beautiful white ceramic tub, a water heater, and a flush toilet, I've considered modern plumbing to be among my most appreciated blessings. I wouldn't mind cooking over a camp fire, driving a wagon, or many of the other tasks pioneer women faced, but I would hate tending to nature's demands behind a bush or a couple of compassionate sisters' skirts spread wide for a bit of privacy.

 
At 7/27/2006 11:33 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Jennie, I can't believe I forgot that one! I cannot DO without indoor plumbing. Even when we're camping I have to hold my breath to go into an outhouse. And how would I ever live without my jacuzzi tub and bubble bath? Yeah, indoor plumbing would be high on my list.

 

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