When I found myself in Wyoming for a month this autumn, I packed Gretel Ehrlich’s The Solace of Open Spaces, wondering how it would read in 2019. Ehrlich arrived in the state in the mid-1970s, working on a PBS documentary about sheep herding. She then returned to become an unlikely shepherd herself, unmoored by the early death of her lover. The opening sentence puts us directly into the extreme physicality of this kind of work. “It’s May and I’ve just awakened from a nap, curled against sagebrush the way my dog taught me to sleep—sheltered from the wind.”
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