2002—Memoirs: Harriet (concluded)
My youngest son Perry had to come with us, of course. So did Dow’s youngest, Sobieski. The trip was much of an adventure for the two six-year-old boys, who got into about as little deviltry as any such pair in my wide experience. Brigham and Clara make a marvelous couple, by the way, despite the gap in their ages. Her other-worldliness takes the edge off his hard-nosed and often abrasive practicality. Joseph was always fond of Clara, when she was just a little girl. They had a lot in common. Interesting that Isaac Decker and I should have made a mystic.

Whatever Brigham actually said, we did get there. And if he didn’t say exactly what you think he said on July 24, 1847, he probably said something like it, some other time. And whatever he said, scribes wrote it down; did you know that? That’s a lot of talking, and a lot of writing. But then I shouldn’t be one to complain on either count, should I? Apart from all the family connections, talking’s what Brigham and I have always had in common.

That next week, I went down to the creek, dug up a sapling, and planted it inside the fort we were building. Still didn’t look much like New Hampshire, nor NewYork, nor Ohio, nor Missouri, nor Illinois, nor Iowa, nor even Nebraska Territory. And Winter Quarters at its worst was never as wretched as the
dugouts in the old fort. We stretched hides over them, to keep out the weather. But when the food gave out, we pulled up those hides, cleaned them up as best we could, and boiled them. Perry still tells people how I set a table in the open air, laid my best cloth on it, and served us all (and some neighbors) that dreadful glue soup in my mother’s best china. Which was none too fancy, but it still serves us well.

Once things got better, and more folks arrived from the East, and we actually began to have houses to live in, I stirred things up a bit by insisting that Dow build us a house outside the fort. Wise heads found tongues to cluck, predicting that the Indians would make short work of us, all vulnerable out there. And we did share some hair-raising experiences with our savage neighbors. Given enough space to work with, though, Dow built a fine house, for these parts, and others soon followed our example.

Since then, I’ve been back East just once. I won’t pretend that I looked upon all those trees, and the great rivers, without a pang in my New Hampshire heart. But I’ve returned to the mountains. I’ll be buried here, next to Dow. And on my better days, I’m even mostly glad that when Brigham said, “Drive on”—if he really did—they continued only as far as this valley.
Cambridge, 13 October 2002

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