Here's a little something I wrote for Fairfield CA's Daily Republic. The assignment was to write about inspirational books for women. I'm not sure what was expected- self-help in the Dr. Phil genre perhaps, but I chose to write about four books that told the stories of women of the west. What does that have to do with wine? Not much except that for these women, the soil, the sun and the seasons were as primal as they are for anyone who loves wine.
It was in “Women of the West” I first encountered Elinore Pruitt Stewart, a woman who came to a Wyoming to be a housekeeper on a sheep ranch and married the rancher six weeks later. That did not deter her from realizing her dream of homesteading a claim in her own name. You can read her full story in “Letters of a Woman Homesteader” which is free, not only in the library but online, as part of Project Guttenberg’s free online book collection. “Heartland” is the movie of her story, featuring Rip Torn as the gruff rancher. Apparently living in a cabin on a Wyoming sheep ranch was not sufficiently “ roughing it” for Elinore, because when her husband goes off on a roundup, she gets restless an takes her daughter on camping trip.
Whether an autobiography, a book of letters or a classic from a master, these are the stories we are fortunate to read and read again. They stand for the stories of women we will never know, stories we can only imagine.