"The Wyoming Centennial Wagon Train ended in Cody in a dismal,
torn-down drive-in movie theater. Before setting up the corral, we
were forced to clear away shards of glass, bent nails, broken
lumber. My prairie skirt and petticoats hung ragged and clay-caked,
and under a droopy Stetson my frizzled hair appeared at once
greased and starched beyond human recognition. A cloud, a sort of
vaporousness, redolent with fresh acrid sweat on top of powerful
stale sweat, hung thickly about me. Laced, as it was, with a
woman's sweet musky secretions, and all gone past ripe, oddly it
was a pungency I savored. Such goaty piquance, though, was cause to
be shunned in any town setting.
The look of my world had changed. Gone were the high-dollar
designer clothes and the zipping around fabled Marin County in a
candy-apple-red 1966 Mustang convertible. It was true that I
unfailingly sought the ironies in life and, with a kind of dual
personality, shifted easily through incongruencies such as town
strolls in high heels and backcountry hiking in bare feet; the
bucket seats of a classic automobile and the broken-down bench of a
beater truck. It was only during the years that Iid worn white
overalls, taped drywall, and come home every night much like
Charles Schulz's Pig Pen, flaking a cloud of dried white mud bits
onto the rug, that I'd felt moved to keep my fingernails painted
red. Now I was to slip farther than ever planned toward one end of
my seesaw and then, incredibly, by conscious design, inch out even
With more than 1.5 million copies in print, Kathleen Meyer's
groundbreaking international bestseller, How to Shit in the Woods:
An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art, has been widely
embraced by the outdoor community and has found its way into myriad
places: national parks, outdoor leadership schools and scout-troop
headquarters, the camp tents of those who have discovered that it
is amusing out-loud reading, and the bathroom-literature baskets of
households around the world.
Now, from the Rocky Mountain West, Meyer brings us
Barefoot-Hearted: A Wild Life Among Wildlife, a
coming-into-the-country story told with the frank, dry humor and
sharp research of her first book. The country, in this case, is
Montana's tall, reaching landscape with its ever underfoot wild
critters; the on-tenterhooks territory of a new romantic
relationship; and the pressure cooker that is our precarious global
imbalance. Meyer finds herself in midlife standing out under
yawning skies, surrounded by sagebrush and cactus, having fallen
for the Irish charm of itinerant farrier Patrick McCarron. As
partners, they travel across three mountain states with draft
horses and a covered wagon and then set up housekeeping in a
seventy-five-year-old dairy barn.
In this primitive structure, the author rapidly discovers she's
living with troops of mice, a nursery colony of seventy-five bats,
sexually fired-up skunks, and more flies than in a pig shed. She
tells of a freakish season that or-phaned seventy-seven bear cubs,
an unusual fly-fishing trip on a famed blue-ribbon trout stream,
the visitations of moose, and the discovery of a den of wolves.
Meyer's prose is original and inspired, playful yet provocative.
She carries us vividly back to the settlers' old West while
pondering modern-day dilemmas, those of fitting into this fast
hurtling world, of determining amid the earth's rising extinctions
of species, whose planet it is, and of managing to stay empowered
residing with a man who "stands six feet six and beats steel on an
anvil for a living." A personal chronicle of conscience and a love
story of rare and quirky dimension, Barefoot-Hearted catapults
readers into new realms of thought, deftly guided there by Meyer's
sense of the ironic, the randy, and the humorous.
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