“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).
All the Powerful Invisible Things
All the Powerful Invisible Things is an eloquent memoir of self-discovery and a chronicle of outdoor life. Refusing “impoverished ideas of passion,” Gretchen Legler writes about the complexities of being a woman who fishes and hunts, as well as about the more intimate terrain of family and sexuality. The result is a unique literary confluence filled with the ineffable graces of the natural world.
Twenty-five years after it was first published, All the Powerful Invisible Things remains a highwater mark for women writing about the outdoors and is one of the few works to tackle the intricacies of gender identity and sexuality with transcendental aplomb.
"Ms. Legler has written a book that is part nature guide, part family history and part feminist tract, and she captures the reader's imagination with the same skill and precision with which she catches spring walleyes on the Rainey River. "— New York Times
"The awesome vision of a woman tearing herself down to the bone and then slowly, painstakingly, recreating herself in her own image...Although these essays are ostensibly distinct, together they create a sense of process that makes this book exceptional. Legler's epiphanies are book-length--and longer. What this volume evokes is beyond sympathy; the reader aches for Legler's pain." — Kirkus Reviews
Trinity University Press
On the Ice
AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT OF LIFE AT MCMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA
Travelogue, cultural meditation, and love story, On the Ice casts a panoramic view on one of the oddest communities in one of the most extreme places on earth. Sent to Antarctica as an observer by the National Science Foundation, Gretchen Legler arrives at McMurdo Station in midwinter, a time of -70 degree temperatures and months of near-total darkness. A lesbian struggling with a tumultuous past, she hopes to escape her own demons and present an intimate view of a place few will ever visit. What she discovers is a community of people stripped of any excess by the necessities of existence in a harsh land, where revered scientists are referred to as “beakers”; where cherished belongings are left without regret in a communal lost-and-found; and where women are rare but lesbians in high proportion. Forced to confront her own fears, Legler experiences firsthand how landscape and community allow a life to reset.
"The emotional honesty of Legler's reporting significantly increases our understanding of life on the last great frontier." — Publishers Weekly