The Solace of Open Spaces, by Gretel Ehrlich, is a beautiful little book that I happened upon in the sale bin at a used book store. In the late 1970s, Ehrlich traveled to Wyoming on assignment for her work, and stayed because it draw her in in her grief upon losing her loved one to cancer. She lived there for many years, living and working on ranches, and this book is a collection of essays describing her time there and the feeling of living there. Her writing is lyrical and almost what I would call “prose poetry” at times. She conveys effectively the wide open feeling of Wyoming, and I was easily able to imagine the scenes and sensations she described. It is a lovely book and I highly recommend it. Here is a quote, selected randomly:
In Wyoming we are supplicants, waiting all spring for the water to come down, for the snow pack to melt and fill the creeks from which we irrigate. Fall and spring rains amount to less than eight inches a year, while above our ranches, the mountains hold their snows like a secret: no one knows when they will melt or how fast. When the water does come, it floods through the state as if the peaks were silver pitchers tipped forward by mistake.