I came across this book as the author offered a writing class of sorts in my area. I’ve never met her personally, and was unable to attend, sadly, but I jumped at the chance to read the memoir of her childhood. I wasn’t raised in the rustic mountain range of Wyoming, but I have spent some time there, have friends who live close to the same area now, and have indulged the better part of my days enjoying the great outdoors of central Utah (a neighboring state). The experiences, terrain, and wildlife of my upbringing is different than Kate’s in many ways, yet close to the same in others. I read memoirs periodically, so I was excited to dive into one that I could relate to.
This book was put together a little differently from other memoirs I’ve read. It isn’t so much of a timeline of one’s life, as it is a collection of memories and description of Kate’s family life as a child. Some tales and antics I really loved. A few of Kate’s family members really cracked me up, as I found myself comparing them to my own dear flannel wearing loved ones who spend their days camping, working their butts off, competing in fish catching (or embellishing stories of fish catching), and telling tales of how they escaped the clutches of death by animal attack.
As a child, Kate felt a little out of place growing up in the rustic outdoors of Wyoming’s finest. She felt that she didn’t measure up on the tough rugged, undenyable work ethic side of life that everyone around her seemed to be overflowing with. She couldn’t wait to get to college and move out of the area, yet looking back and in her recollections it’s clear that she has a real, and very humbling love and respect for her family and the upbringing she was given, despite some of the outlook that she once had. It’s a little funny what hindsight can do.
Kate spent a good portion of time working in her grand-mothers greenhouse and with that came a sense of dedication and quiet ethic. Her Grandfather is an excellent character, he literally caught wild bobcats and then raised/bred them. Apparently he even wrote a book, which I’m not going to lie, I’m actually a little curious about.
One thing about living in the quiet mountain ranges of Wyoming, is the moose. There really are a tun of them everywhere, that I can attest to myself! I have a friend whose grandma had a bull moose come back to her house year after year and practically live under their hillside wrap around porch. That was one rule to visiting grandma’s house. Kids couldn’t play outside in the yard in the winter without a grownup checking for moose first. One of my favorite of Kate’s memories is about what she called the night moose. A giant, raging bull who would rack his horns on a street sign outside of her house at night. Another of my favorites, comes toward the end. A woman who was building her own cabin by hand in the woods gave Kate some insight to her life and the process of her cabin building adventure. Kate wrote an article about her and the woman’s story is really fascinating.
All in all, I found the book as a whole to be a smooth and easy read. At times it felt a little redundant and sluggish, and at other times I loved it. I’d recommend this book to anyone who is a somewhat curious about how hardworking, mountain loving people who chose to live a simple mountain life — do actually live. The book is real, it’s rustic, it’s fun.
The extremes of life in rural Wyoming can be a challenge when dogged preparation for harsh winters can mean the difference between life and death, and where glorious summers seem to reward the survivors. For Kate Meadows it was a conundrum. Growing up in a small town, surrounded by magnificent mountains and trout filled rivers may sound like heaven to many, but if the concept of “wild” frightens you, it can be a struggle to fit into that landscape. Some children would have been delighted by the sight of a moose at the corner of their yard on a cold winter night. Kate was frightened. She never took to hunting or horses. The outdoors and its wild creatures—at the core of her family and the generations before her—at once fascinated her and provided the means to overcome her fears while instilling in her a hearty respect for a raw and sometimes merciless landscape.
So what’s a girl to do when she’s torn between the desire to escape to “civilization,” yet so tightly bound by the invisible but unbreakable chains of love?
Kate Meadows has deftly captured her struggle to find her place in a world where she just didn’t fit in. Here she recounts her childhood experiences and conveys the emotions that saw her through a defining part of her life. It’s a story that resonates with everyone, and a story no one will be able to forget