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Gary Fernandez

Mrs. Woods

Environmental Systems AP

17 August 2009

The Solace of Open Spaces (131 pages)

Gretel Ehrlich

In the story The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich, the author was trying to

tell the reader about her experiences in the countryside of Wyoming. In all twelve

chapters, she recalls all the details of either the ranch life, or the recollection of the time

she was there at the ranch in all of her experiences. The thing the author was trying to

communicate to the readers was that the ranch life, though the work was hard, was really

the place for her and for everyone to consider. Also, she tells her audience that the reality

is totally different than the stereotype all of us believe living on a ranch is like.

The following are some things learned and are noteworthy of recalling while

reading this book:

• “Things happen suddenly in Wyoming the change of seasons and weather; for

people, the violent swings in and out of isolation. Friendliness is a tradition.

Strangers passing on the road wave hello.” (p. 5)

• “People hold back their thoughts in what seems to be a dumbfounded silence, then

erupt with an excoriating perceptive remark. Language, so compressed, becomes

metaphorical.” (p. 6)

• ‘The land was generous with everything but water. At first there was room

enough, food enough, for everyone. And as with all beginnings, an expansive

mood sets in.” (p. 9-10)

• “A ranch offers more than jobs; whole families are taken in, their needs attended

to: housing, food, schools, even a graveyard plot for those who died on the job or

liked the place so much they wanted to be buried there.” (p. 17)

• “Economics us a factor: cowboys make $700-$1000 a month while sheepherders

make $300-$500. Herders stay out on the range with their sheep year around;

cowboys go home at night.” (p. 21)

• “Traditionally, at least, ranch life has gone against materialism and has stood for

the small achievements of the human conjoined with the animal, and the simpler

pleasures-like listening to the radio or picking out constellations.” (p. 43-44)

• “What I’m aching to see is horseflesh, the glint of a spur, a line of distant

mountains, brimming creeks, and a reminder of the ranchers and cowboys I’ve

ridden with for the last eight years.” (p. 49)

• “In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are only

consequences.” (p. 57)

• “On the winter solstice it is thirty-four degrees below zero and there is very little

in the way of sunlight.” (p. 72)

• “But a good irrigator knows this: too little water brings on the weeds while too

much degrades the soil the way too much easy money can trivialize a person’s

initiative.” (p. 84)


The book was a great way in showing how the countryside of Wyoming really

changed the way the author lived and possibly how today’s society will be too. The style

of the author was in first person, which made the reader feel the emotions and thoughts of

the author and how it impacted her. This book impacted me in a very simple way: the

countryside is more than the stereotype we hear about by other people. The things I

learned were the real duties in the country life and the differences between the jobs on the


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