Three women and three books
What better way to have the stories of farm and ranch women than to have them write their own, then assemble them into a series of anthologies? Three ranch women did just that and the resulting books remain my go-to books when I want to read truly meaningful writing. I read them when I’m happy or when I’m sad or when I want to settle into a sound slumber. It is not that they are boring — not at all— but to me they are soothing.
Nancy Curtis, Linda Hasselstrom and the late Gaydell Collier were the power behind the books; as editors they received manuscripts and poetry, typed or handwritten or scrawled. They read and sorted and accepted or rejected each piece, then arranged them in a sensible manner. I often wonder how many hours the editors must have put into these books, including the travel for marketing after publication. They received many more writings than appear in the books. There are essays and poetry like you have never before read. Included are stories and memories that needed to be written. I want to thank these three ladies who took on the task of compiling such valuable and necessary thoughts by rural women.
The first book, which came out in 1997 was Leanin’ into the Wind. Then came Woven on the Wind in 2001. While the third one was percolating, some of us speculated on the title for it. Most popular was ‘Windy Women,’ to follow the theme, but the editors used a Wyoming geographic reference for Crazy Woman Creek, and that anthology came out in 2004.
My impressions go far beyond the books to the women I met through the book events. When my writing was accepted for Woven, little did I know it would lead to being on the author’s side of events at the Tattered Cover in Denver. Several of us contributors attended. A few individuals read their pieces. The rest of us laughed and cried, softly whooped (we were in the city, after all) and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. In my mind’s eye I can still see the presenters and their antics as they read, and it does my heart good.
The strength of the books is that some of the contributors are not writers, per se, but they had something to say on behalf of farm and ranch wives everywhere. The kinship that is felt whether from a Minnesota dairy farmer or a high country Colorado rancher is palpable.
Farm and ranch women from 22 mostly Western states and Canada wrote what they love about living in the country, their families as well as the trials and tribulations of rural life. Here is a example of the humor with a common question we are asked and a great answer, from one of the author’s profiles: “Do you work outside the home?” “Yes, but sometimes I come in for lunch.”
I would suggest that anyone who would like a better understanding or appreciation of farm and ranch women, how they are essential to the agricultural operations and their passion for the land, should read these books.
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