Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs.
The great, dark trees of the Big Woods stood all around the house, and beyond them were other trees and beyond them were more trees.
As far as a man could go to the north in a day, or a week, or a whole moth, there was nothing but woods. There were no houses. There were no roads. There were no people. There were only trees and the wild animals who had their homes among them.
So far as the little girl could see, there was only the one little house where she lived with her Father and Mother, her sister Mary and baby sister Carrie.
The little girl was named Laura and she called her father, Pa, and her mother, Ma. In those days and in that place, children did not say Father and Mother, nor Mamma and Papa, as they do now.
At night when Laura lay awake in the trundle bed, she listened and could not hear anything at all but the sound of the trees whispering together. Sometimes, far away in the night, a wolf howled.
But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa's fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods.
She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the firelight gleaming on his brown hair and beard...
and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle.
She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.
She thought to herself, "This is now."
She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma
and the firelight and the music, were now.
They could not be forgotten, she thought,
because now is now.
It can never be a long time ago.