Acclaimed nature writer Linda M. Hasselstrom sees herself as a rancher who writes-a self-definition that shapes the tone and content of her writing. Now owner of the cattle ranch where she grew up in western South Dakota, she lives in daily intimate contact with the natural world. As she says, "Nature is to me both home and office. Nature is my boss, manager of the branch office-or ranch office-where I toil to convert native grass into meat. . . .If I want to keep my job as well as my home, I pay attention not only to Nature's orders, but to her moods and whims."
The essays in this book reflect Hasselstrom's close attention to her homeplace and the depth of her sympathy with the world around her. She writes knowingly of the rancher's toil and of the intelligence and dignity of the animals she tends, especially the much-maligned cow, as well as of the wild creatures-the owls and antelope and coyotes and others-that share the prairie grassland she calls home. Hasselstrom's voice rings with the ardent common sense of one who knows and loves the land, who appreciates the concerns of environmental activists but also knows the role that responsible ranchers can play in nurturing a healthy rural ecosystem.
This book is by no means an apologia for ranching but rather a lively picture of a specific part of the world, a world of which Hasselstrom writes with candor, love, and the clear sight of one who knows it well. The essays are rich in closely observed details of the natural world, in humor and pathos and wry commentary on the scope of human folly and the even vaster potential of humans for community and empathy. "Only people who live in the country," she writes, "could form a relationship with nature so intimate that they feel concern for one lonely duck. People who live in cities . . . only glimpse nature from high windows or speeding vehicles. Even wilderness lovers who probe deeply are only passing through. We who live on the land truly live within the land, each of our lives only one among the other inhabitants of the place." These are essays to read with wonder and delight, to relish and ponder.
Linda M. Hasselstrom combines forty-five years of experience raising cattle on the Northern Plains with thirty years as an environmental activist to create essays and poetry, and co-edit anthologies that make a significant contribution to environmental writing today. She is the author or editor of twelve books including Woven on the Wind, Feels Like Far, and Leaning into the Wind. She has received a number of honors for her work including an NEA fellowship for poetry and the South Dakota Hall of Fame's Writer of the Year award.