Crafting a Sustainable Rural LifeA chronicle of the rewards and challenges of building a life on a farm in backwoods Maine
“Woodsqueer” is sometimes used to describe the mindset of a person who has taken to the wild for an extended period of time. Gretchen Legler is no stranger to life away from the rapid-fire pace of the twenty-first century, which can often lead to a kind of stir-craziness. Woodsqueer chronicles ...
Building a home with her partner, Ruth, on their farm means learning to live with solitude, endless trees, and the wild animals the couple come to welcome as family. Whether trying to outsmart their goats, calculating how much firewood they need for the winter, or bartering with neighbors for goods and services, they hone life skills brought with them (carpentry, tracking and hunting wild game) and other skills they learn along the way (animal husbandry, vegetable gardening, woodcutting).
Legler’s story is at times humbling and grueling, but it is also amusing. A homage to agrarian American life echoing the back-to-the-land movement popularized in the mid-twentieth century, Woodsqueer reminds us of the benefits of living close to the land. Legler unapologetically considers what we have lost in America, in less than a century—individually and collectively—as a result of our urban, mass-produced, technology-driven lifestyles.
Illustrated with rustic pen-and-ink illustrations, Woodsqueer shows the value of a solitary sojourn and both the pathway to and possibilities for making a sustainable, meaningful life on the land. The result, for Legler and her partner, is an evolution of their humanity as they become more physically, emotionally, and even spiritually connected to their land and each other in a complex ecosystem ruled by the changing seasons.
Praise for All the Powerful Invisible Things
"Ms. Legler has written a book that is part nature guide, part family history and part feminist tract, and she captures the reader's imagination with the same skill and precision with which she catches spring walleyes on the Rainey River. "— New York Times
"These moving essays so seamlessly connect her inner and outer selves that Legler (a creative writing teacher whose work has been anthologized elsewhere) even manages to combine such seemingly at-odds subjects as her love of and respect for animals and her love of hunting, her affection for her ex-husband and her strong sexual attraction to women, without ever sounding hypocritical or confused. Nature plays a part here, but really these are essays about emotional states, and Legler bares her heart as easily as she slits open the belly of a deer." — Publishers Weekly
"The awesome vision of a woman tearing herself down to the bone and then slowly, painstakingly, recreating herself in her own image...Although these essays are ostensibly distinct, together they create a sense of process that makes this book exceptional. Legler's epiphanies are book-length--and longer. What this volume evokes is beyond sympathy; the reader aches for Legler's pain." — Kirkus Reviews
Praise for On the Ice
"The emotional honesty of Legler's reporting significantly increases our understanding of life on the last great frontier." — Publishers Weekly