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Leaning into the Wind: Women Write from the Heart of the West Paperback – April 13, 1998
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"205 voices that will knock your heart out." The Denver Post
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Leaning Into the Wind is an amazing collection of writing by women of the High Plains, a chorus of distinctive voices, each speaking her own strong language. In it you will read about milking, lame horses, cowmoms, and sleeping with the pigs. You'll hear chilling descriptions of wind and winter, the poetry of coyotes, a recipe for bug spray--and throughout, the voices of extraordinary women working, loving, mothering, living.
The editors sifted manuscripts from 550 women in six Western states--"a tower of submissions twelve feet high" that included photo albums, letters, handwritten pages, diaries, and more--to give us this collection. And a marvelous collection it is, with sections such as "Growing into the Land," "Pay a Holy Kind of Attention," and "The River of Stories."
But the only way to tell you about this rare book is to give you a taste of it. Here are a few bits and pieces to whet your appetite for more:
"I could have used a warm breeze instead of the icy wind. Or grass underfoot--that would have been easier to walk over than powdery snow and frozen manure. But most of all, I could have used a glimpse into the future the day we decided to double our beef herd."--Audrey A. Keith
"My Aunt Mary told me that she never saw my mother sit down unless she was breast-feeding one of us. She did not have the time or energy to care for so many children. After five years on the North Dakota homestead my mother was committed to an asylum in Jamestown, where she died three years later...In the asylum, my mother gave birth to her seventh child, a daughter. Friends of the family adopted her."--Ann Vontz
"I carry the ranch inside me. I can close my eyes and see every sticky weed around our house, the gopher holes, the path to the coal house and the privy. And I can feel my feet on the path as I run barefoot from our house to the ranch house where the corrals wedge against the cottonwoods that line the river."--Phyllis Luman Metal
"I've loved good men and rode good horses."--Karen Obrigewitch
"Just give me a vaccine gun in each hand and stand back!"--Jody Strand
These stories ring with authority, truth, anger, fear, sadness, longing, strength. They are the authentic stories of women whose lives are living testimony to the way the roots grow in the sweet soil of the High Plains, under the shadow of the mountain, "between God and the ground." They show us that Earth can be enough, and teach us how to live our lives in the spaces between necessity and hope.
Susan Wittig Albert
for Story Circle Book Reviews
The sheer eloquence of these plains women - their poetry and tales - tells much of the strength of the human spirit. I wept with them as they tell of the rigors of drought and the Depression; laughed with them as they tell of childish pranks; and prayed with them as they lived through weather we can only imagine today, snugged, cocooned, and protected as we are from the elements.
I would wish every high school American history teacher would include this in their curriculum. To have history not only educate, but entertain, is a rare treat. It is our roots that make us strong - just as the wheat that grows upon these same high plains.
The format is outstanding for its message: short essays and poems. One can chew off just as much as is right at any one time, without feeling that the tale has been interrupted. The eloquence of these prairie women, the beauty of their imagery, was a constant delight - even when their eloquence was manifested purely by sheer simplicity.