Lazy Autumn Day
LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos
Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.
Author’s note: This story assumes the farmhouse was not destroyed by a tornado as happened in the episode, “Days of Sunshine, Days of Shadow.”
Laura peered out the front window of the white farmhouse she shared with Almanzo. Harvesttime was her favorite time of the year, especially when the wheat had grown so well.
Almanzo’s new reaper had made quick work of harvesting the wheat, which she had helped him bundle into sheaths before they stacked the golden sheaths into stooks so the grain heads would dry. Tomorrow, their friends would arrive with the thresher to get the grain bagged and the extra straw baled to sell in Mankato. A farmer’s life rarely left time for relaxation. As a farmer’s wife and mother to Rose, many of Laura’s days seemed endless.
She felt Almanzo’s hands clasp her shoulders. “Just look at it, Beth. The Lord blessed us this year.”
Laura sighed. Just last year, a hailstorm had wiped out their entire wheat crop a few days before harvest. Almanzo had mortgaged the house without telling her, so when the crop was destroyed and Almanzo was struck ill with diphtheria, they almost lost everything. She wouldn’t allow herself to feel happy about this crop until it was threshed and bagged.
“It will be good to have some money in the bank,” she said, afraid to speak her fears aloud.
Luckily, those fears remained unfounded. The wheat was threshed, the grain bagged, and the extra straw baled. Their barn ended up filled with fresh straw for bedding, and with what Almanzo sold, he bought supplies at the Mercantile to last them through the winter. He paid ahead on their bank note, so that even if they missed a month, their home would be secure. He also put some money in their savings. It felt good knowing they paid their bill at the Mercantile in cash. That left nothing for Mrs. Oleson to hold over her head.
Laura sat in her chair, rocking Rose as she slept. She would tuck her into bed in a few moments, but she always enjoyed watching her sleep. Almanzo sat in his chair on the other side of the fireplace, sipping a cup of tea.
“We’ve worked hard these last few days, Beth. How about tomorrow, we go on a picnic?”
She raised his eyebrows at him. “Tomorrow is baking and cleaning day, Manly, just like every Saturday.” She shook her head. “You know I’ll be busy.”
“The house looks beautiful. I’m sure no one will notice if you miss a day.” He slid out of his chair and knelt at her feet. “You’ve worked so hard since Rose was born. A little extra rest will do you good.”
“I’m not the one who suffered through diphtheria and a stroke.”
“No, but you took care of everything while I recovered.” He kissed Rose’s head and helped Laura to her feet. “The canning is done and we have enough supplies for winter. We have some leftover biscuits and ham, maybe a couple of slices of that pie you made the other day, and a bit of tea. We’ll take Rosie Posie for a ride and put a blanket out on the grass down by the lake. What do you say?”
A crooked smile crept across his face, and Laura knew she couldn’t resist it. “Oh, Manly, you’re impossible.”
He pecked her cheek. “Anything for my girls.”
The next morning, bright sunshine filtered through the windows. What a great day for a picnic. Dressed in her brown skirt and a cream-colored blouse with brown edging, Laura piled food into a basket. She wrapped up Rose in her blankets and tucked her into a larger basket.
“All set, Beth?”
She nodded. “We’re ready to go!”
Barnum and Skip pulled the wagon down the road, their hooves tossing up dirt as they clip-clopped along. Laura felt a breeze across her face. It rustled the leaves and sent some of them floating to the ground in a bounty of yellow, red, and orange. She sighed and leaned into Almanzo’s shoulder. If only every day could be like this.
Once they reached the lake, Almanzo yanked the horses to a stop and pushed the brake lever. He took Rose and her basket and placed them on the grass before extending his hand to help Laura out of the wagon. She grabbed the basket of food out of the wagon box and the blanket and made quick work of setting up their picnic, while Almanzo led the horses to the shore for a drink.
He sauntered over to her and plunked down on the blanket, crossing his legs. They ate and talked, enjoying their lazy day together. They walked along the water’s edge until Rose fell asleep. Laura placed her into the basket and pulled her blankets closer.
Sitting on the blanket with his legs extended, Almanzo leaned back on his arms. He patted his leg and Laura laid her head down.
“I’m so glad you convinced me to do this, Manly.” She gazed up into his blue eyes. “I didn’t realize how exhausting this last year has been.”
He smiled. “I asked Albert to stop by and tend to the animals, so we don’t have to rush home.”
It seemed like her husband had thought of everything. Laura closed her eyes and let her mind drift through the many memories of their relationship: meeting each other, giving each other their nicknames, the day he finally admitted he had feelings for her, their wedding day, and so many other moments she cherished. How did I get so lucky?
“I’m sorry last year was so hard on you,” he said. “I spent all that time thinking of me and didn’t consider what you were going through.”
Laura sat up and cupped his head in her hands. “I can only imagine what it was like for you.” She kissed him.
Almanzo pulled her close. “We probably won’t spend a lazy day like this again for a while, so let’s not spend it thinking about unhappy memories. Let’s just enjoy being a family.”
As Laura snuggled deeper into his arms, she thanked God for all He had given her. Almanzo had recovered from the diphtheria and stroke, Rose brought both of them tremendous joy, and she loved being a farmer’s wife more than she ever thought possible. Though she missed teaching, the occasional tutoring job helped fill that gap. She didn’t know what the future would bring, but she was certain they could face anything together.
Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos – All Rights Reserved.