The Solace of Open Spaces

I first heard about Gretel Ehrlich’s The Solace of Open Spaces on Yellowstone, when the character Beth reads a line to her father (I’d pretend to be embarrassed, but I’m beyond in love with the show, so I’m not). I immediately looked it up and ordered it on the spot. Between Beth Dutton’s recommendation and my newfound adoration of Wyoming after a trip to the Tetons, I knew it would resonate. It did. 

I finally finished the slim book of Ehrlich’s recounting of her time in Wyoming, working on ranches, and I already find myself wanting to reread it (this rarely happens). The language she uses to talk about the land and the nature that lives on it is exquisite, providing the potential for beauty in expected images like the landscape but also in the dry dust storms of the summer. Her depiction of those who inhabit the wide open land left me partially envious of their space, physical productivity, and seemingly simpler lives. Annie Dillard’s blurb on the cover, that “Wyoming has found it’s Whitman” is spot on. 

I’m not going to pack up and leave my home in suburbia, but there wasn’t a page that went by that didn’t make me yearn to get in my car and drive east, through Nevada and into Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. 

There’s plenty of time. And hopefully space.

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