The China Shepherdess

They were all happy that night. The fire on the hearth was pleasant, for on the High Prairie even the summer nights were cool. The red-checked cloth was on the table, the little china woman glimmered on the mantel-shelf, and the new floor was golden in the flickering firelight. Outside, the night was large and full of stars. –Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The china shepherdess. I remember this from my childhood. Ma would pack her up so carefully and she would survive the trips back and forth across the Midwest.  The only decoration aside from Pa’s fiddle. And she would always have that red-checked tablecloth in each home they lived in.

Pioneers. The original minimalists.

There are tales of families having to leave chests of books and china and even furniture alongside the trail as they traveled west by covered wagon.  As we contemplate the possibility of a several state move, I stand in my home and look at all of my family’s possessions.  Would they even fit in one large U-Haul? Or would it require two? What if we only took our cars?

The endless knickknacks and dust-catchers that adorn my walls and shelves and nearly every flat surface. Do I really love them that much?

The peace that came with having exactly what was important and what was essential is so apparent in stories told from the frontier. If an item didn’t have a use, it was not purchased. Or it must have great sentimental value to be kept.

What is my china shepherdess?


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