By the Shores of Silver Lake Book Discussion - Happy Winter Days
Day after day the Christmas feeling lasted. Each day after her chores were done Mrs. Boast would come and spend time with the girls. Thus far they were having a warm winter season and Mrs. Boast invited them all to her house for New Year's dinner.
Laura showed up early to help Mrs. Boast rearrange the furniture to make room for everyone in the small shanty. The table sat in the center of the house, one corner almost touching the stove. Mrs. Boast sat there and served the food from its hot top. First there was oyster soup and with this soup she served oyster crackers. The girls had never seen nor tasted anything so good. Next came hot buscuits with honey and dried raspberry sauce. Followed up by a dishpan full of tender salty popcorn. All of which was served on Mrs. Boast's pretty dishes on top of her brand new tablecloth.
"It's a good beginning for 1880," Pa declared. "If this is a sample of Dakota winter, we're all lucky we came west."
Mr. Boast agreed and mentioned he was thankful he had his claim already filed. He only wished the same for Charles. During the upcoming week Pa too would have his claim filed. He figured he'd set out in the morning for the land office in Brookins. That night a wind full of snow was blowing and Ma worried about Charles leaving.
Mrs. Boast would come over almost daily during those winter days and played in the snow with the girls. Late one afternoon she took Laura to her house and gave her a tall stack of newspapers that she'd brought with her from Iowa. When Laura read them all, she could return them and take more back with her. Mary was excited when Laura plopped them into her lap. They couldn't wait for the supper work to be done so Laura could read. Seems neither could Ma. "Never mind the work Laura, read us a story." While Laura read, Ma and Carrie got supper ready. She read stories of a dwarf and caves and where a beautiful lady became lost in the cave. At the most exciting part Laura read the words "To be continued". They scrambled to find the paper with the end to their story. It was a story that continued on and on through the whole stack of newspapers.
On stormy days Mrs. Boast brought her sewing and knitting. One day she told them about whatnots. She taught Pa how to make and adjoin three shelves, each with three corners and of various sizes. All were then pieced together to fit snugly into the corner of the room. When Pa finished the one he was working on for Ma, the women cut pasteboard and made scalloped edges to place on them for a trim. Pa then carefully painted the whole whatnot, Ma just loved it.
Ma and Mrs. Boast talked about homesteads. Mrs. Boast had brought with her enough seed for two gardens, Ma need not worry about seeds. Every evening Pa also played the fiddle and the Boasts sang. Laura had never been so happy. For some reason she was the happiest of all when they were all singing.