In an impressive debut memoir, a self-proclaimed “Woman of the World” chronicles her journey to find a home.
May, who has worked as barista, conservationist, teacher and vegetable farmer, joins the ranks of Gretel Ehrlich and Annie Proulx, celebrants of sagebrush, big skies and journeys of self-discovery. The author grew up a traveler: Her parents moved frequently, and when asked where she came from, May would respond, proudly and defiantly, “I am from nowhere.” A move to the Gallatin River Valley of Montana with her fiance fed a new restlessness to discover a place she could call home and, even more importantly, to discover if rootlessness defined her. On 107 acres of land owned by her parents, the couple decided to build a yurt, a traditional Mongolian structure of bent wood covered with canvas, providing “a thin membrane” of shelter from owls, coyotes and a slinking mountain lion. They finished the painstaking project just before the snows began. Shrouded by the hushed winter landscape, May felt herself quieted, and she honed a new skill: “Learning silence in order to hear your own truth.” Instead of having no roots, she decided she, too, had been shaped by the places where she had lived —“a lineage of worldliness”—places essential to her identity that she did not need to travel constantly. While her friends wondered when she would take to the road with a new map, she settled into the tasks of day-to-day survival: planting, reaping, sweeping, cooking: “Some whole days,” she writes, “could be spent taking simple care.”
May’s poetic, gleaming prose makes palpable the wildness and wind, freezing and thawing earth, delicate fragrances of grass and budding trees—and her own profound transformation.