Actress Melissa Gilbert has spent the past few years living a life that would have felt familiar, at least in some ways, to her most famous character, little house on the prairieof Laura Ingalls Wilder, who grew up in the late 1800s. It happened after she and her husband, actor Timothy Busfield, found a place in the Catskill Mountains that needed serious renovations – more than they weren’t expecting it – on a “very, very strict budget”, and they ended up staying there longer than expected. expected, as the COVID-19 pandemic exploded.
“I knew there was no heating. We knew the plumbing was dodgy, that we would have to do all that stuff. It was when we went inside that I realized, ‘Oh my God'”, Gilbert, whose new book is Return to the Prairie: A Remade House, a Rediscovered Life, says Yahoo Entertainment. “There were books and toys and rotten deer heads on the walls and too much furniture and beer mugs everywhere.”
With some improvements, the couple moved from New York to their new home over the holidays in 2019. Lockdowns began the following March and, like most people, Gilbert was locked down indefinitely.
“When life becomes all about toilet paper, suddenly manicures don’t matter anymore. Posh parties don’t matter anymore and driving the right car doesn’t matter anymore,” says -she. “And, literally, nothing matters except the survival and survival of your loved ones.”
The couple, who married in 2013, reflected on their situation and their long-held fantasies of raising chickens and tending a garden. After all, Gilbert and Busfield had lived far from Hollywood before, when they lived in his native Michigan after their first meeting; She was eager to leave a place where, she says, “the outside mattered more than the inside”, and she had to deal with the pressures of aging in the spotlight.
And Gilbert, who starred in Small house from 1974 to 1983 had, in some respects, long since been prepared to live in nature. By her own reckoning, she lived an “outdoor life” playing Wilder from age 9 to 19.
“I really feel little house on the prairie was kind of the bait that… opened my eyes to what could be. You know, I was on set, especially when we were outside, with the chickens, then the frogs, the pond, the horses and the cows, and everyone had their dogs with them,” he says. she. “And there were a lot of other kids to play with, but I was out in Simi Valley [California] at the ranch and still dusty, still dirty, but just cheerful and happy.”
She details the ultimately rewarding experience of living in her home and the truths she found in her new book and on her website, ModernPrairie.com.
“We had a blast. And that’s a lot of what I write in this book, on the do-it-yourself aspect of it”, explains Gilbert, who is now 58 years old. “And just…the joy that I felt that summer and felt these summers since I did those projects, just being outside and being sticky with sunscreen and bug spray and dirt under my fingernails.”
Gilbert is as unequivocally enthusiastic about his reimagined life in the wild as he is about his days on his hit family show. Almost half a century later, she is grateful. Incredibly grateful.
“I have to say with 100% conviction that one of the greatest gifts of my life was cast upon little house on the prairie“, she says. “I grew up on a set with an incredible cast and crew. Everyone there is like a second family to me.”
Gilbert says she would also consider future projects, but not just anything can motivate her to leave her rustic home.
Return to the Prairie: A Remade House, a Rediscovered Life is available now.
— Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by Jimmie Rhee