Karen Green: Out Of My Element


My Pioneering Spirit

I am sipping tea and patching a hole in a quilt right now. No I’m not.

One of the reasons I thought I could handle leaving the city to move out here to the cornfield was because I have harboured a Little House on the Prairie fetish ever since Carrie fell down the well. I’m a pioneer at heart, I would say to myself, while ordering a Grande Americano from Starbucks and wondering if I got any actual mud on my Hunters. (Quel damage!) Then one summer I canned peaches, fancied myself a total pioneer rockstar, and knew I could leave the city for greener pastures.

Of course, the realities of rural-ish life are quite different than my fantasies. For one thing, the closest Starbucks is 100km away (I KNOW). For another thing, nobody will let me drive their tractor, and Jack the brindle bulldog went out to catch possums one night, and hasn’t been heard from since. Still, the pioneer dream remains alive and well. In fact, I am sipping tea and patching a hole in a quilt right now. No I’m not.

Ways in which I am similar to an Ingalls:

  • I make my own jam.
  • I have used an outhouse for its intended purpose.
  • I often wear my hair in a chignon (that’s a half-ponytail held in place with your kids’ Mickey Mouse elastic, right?)
  • This is definitely a prairie.
  • There are Mrs. Olsen-types out here for sure.
  • My neighbour has horses.
  • I like to pick vegetables out of our garden then cook with them.
  • My kids don’t bathe often enough.
  • My husband is hunky, likes to work outside, and appreciates it when I call him manly, though I’m confused as to why he sometimes says it’s time to plow, then looks at me lasciviously, when we have no crops.
  • My sister is legally blind (thank goodness for modern medicine and powerful specs.)
  • The bugs! Ohmygod, there are so many bugs here. I imagine the Ingalls had to put up with lots of bugs, too.
  • I eat eggs that are still warm from the laying of them.
  • I drive a wagon. A swagger-wagon. Oh yeah.
  • I like to think I am hearty stock.


Ways in which I remain different from an Ingalls:

  • I stopped wearing prairie dresses when Jerry Garcia died and the Dead no longer toured.
  • I took my iPad to the outhouse with me.
  • I have never lived in a dugout, though we did finish the basement last year.
  • I have never had, nor would I like to contract, dysentery, diphtheria, scarlet fever or prairie-mandated politeness.
  • I really enjoy the Mrs. Olsen-types out here and hang with them at every opportunity. They have the best gossip. And nicest parlours.
  • I have never shoed a horse. Oh! But I have shooed a horsefly.
  • I cannot yet play the bugle, fiddle, accordion or banjo, but I’m working on it.
  • When you say, hunter, I think, cute rain boots.
  • I probably won’t send my kids to catch supper from the creek until they’re at least nine years old.
  • I like to think I am hearty stock, but really I’m not.