Monday, November 6, 2017

Child of Steens Mountain

Child of Steens Mountain

I love to read about life in wild places in the past, and this book didn't disappoint.  Indeed, I enjoyed the perspective of a girl growing up as a different one than many of the books about eastern Oregon written by men.

Steens Mountain, if you've never heard of it, is one of the most remote areas in the United States, outside of Alaska.  Even in this day and age, it's a 2 hour drive from the area where the author's parents homesteaded to Burns, a small town of less than 3000 people.

Despite many modern innovations becoming available during her childhood in the 30ies and 40ies  - cars, airplanes, radios, and so on, the life Ms O'Keefe lived on the southern flank of Steens mountain in the 30ies was probably closer to that of Laura Ingalls Wilder of "Little House on the Prairie" than that we enjoy today, in many ways.  Stories of animals both wild and domestic abound, as well as the ever present sense of being very isolated and independent, as it wasn't likely for help to come quickly if you got in trouble.  On the other hand, she also talks about a deep sense of neighbors helping one another out, and the pleasure of other people's company when they were around.

This is not a lengthy book; it's simple and interesting, with a number of anecdotes woven in.    Rabid coyotes, rattlesnakes, freezing winters and hot summers, wandering sheepherders and an automobile more or less held together with bailing wire all make their appearances.

Highly recommended.