Woodsqueer Crafting a sustainable life in rural Maine

Gretchen Legler

Book - 2021

""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 her experiences not just making a living but making a life-in this case, an agrarian one more in tune with the earth on eighty acres in backwoods Maine. Building a home with her partner, Ru...th, 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 others they learn along the way (animal husbandry, vegetable gardening, woodcutting). Legler's story, at times humbling and at other times amusing, is an homage to agrarian American life echoing the back-to-the-land movement popularized in the mid-twentieth century"--

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630.92/Legler
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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor New Shelf 630.92/Legler (NEW SHELF) Due May 31, 2022
Subjects
Genres
Autobiographies
Published
San Antono, Texas : Trinity University Press [2021].
Language
English
Physical Description
280 pages ; 21cm
ISBN
9781595349590
1595349596
Main Author
Gretchen Legler (author)
  • Woodsqueer
  • With the Animals
  • The Tyrant and the Apple Tree
  • Victory Garden
  • Consider the Acorn
  • Honey, Sweetheart, Darling.
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Legler (On the Ice), a creative writing professor at the University of Maine at Farmington, recalls in this meditative mix of memoir and nature writing building a life on "eighty acres of wooded land with a house and barnlike shed" in the mountains of western Maine. Legler and her partner, Ruth, are "those geeks you see snooping through the woods in nylon quick-dry cargo shorts, the pockets full of binoculars, bird books, wildflower guides, and a pocketknife." Legler recounts moving to Maine from Alaska and getting acquainted with the land—she was "astonished by the thick dark"—and chronicles the fruit trees and perennial gardens they planted, and describes in intricate detail the goats and chickens they kept and the care those creatures required. Consideration is given more broadly to humans' relationship with animals: "What makes a human a human and an animal an animal?" she wonders. Legler's at her strongest when dealing with personal demons, such as memories of a mother who met her husband's "mostly verbal blows and abuse by sinking into a soft cloud of daily drunkenness," and confessions about the author's own extramarital affair. This poignant examination of the natural world and the author's unique place in it will delight readers itching to get outdoors. (Feb.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

""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 kindof stir-craziness. Woodsqueer chronicles her experiences not just making a living but making a life-in this case, an agrarian one more in tune with the earth on eighty acres in backwoods Maine. 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 others they learn along the way (animal husbandry, vegetable gardening, woodcutting). Legler's story, at times humbling and at other times amusing, is an homage to agrarian American life echoing the back-to-the-land movement popularized in the mid-twentieth century"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A chronicle of the rewards and challenges of building a life on a farm in backwoods Maine

Review by Publisher Summary 3

“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 her experiences intentionally focusing on not just making a living but making a life—in this case, an agrarian one more in tune with the earth on eighty acres in backwoods Maine.

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.