David Romtvedt

Windmill: Essays From Four Mile Ranch

Publisher: Red Crane Books

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This (This is from Amazon. I will add what is in the book jacket when the book I ordered from Amazon arrives.) is a collection of essays about the rural West written by a resident of a small Wyoming town. As Thoreau used Walden Pond, Romtvedt (Crossing Wyoming, White Pine, 1992. pap.) uses the ubiquitous windmill as metaphor. Because it brings water for livestock, agriculture, and human consumption, it stands as a beacon for life in the West. Is it irony that something so plentiful in the West?wind?is used to deliver something so scarce?water? Romtvedt says that "water is the guiding rule of our lives and the most important metaphor in our vision of place...we in the interior west share...a commitment to place." In his essays on his small town, the local economy, the local culture, being a nonhunter, death, sheep, and weather, Romtvedt indeed conveys a sense of place and simple wisdom. Recommended for regional, large public, and academic libraries.?Thomas K. Fry, Univ. of Denver

Selections from Windmill: Essays From Four Mile Ranch

From the essay Economy

The work that I do at Four Mile Ranch- both the windmill maintenance and everything else- is useful work, fulfulling. Doing it I feel alive. I am inside a universe, not outside looking in. But when asked about my profession, I tell people I'm a poet or, sometimes, I say writer, but never rancher.

A poet friend of mine was telling me about his experience of traveling in airplanes. "You ever notice," he asked, "that mostly people on planes don't talk to each other? Except when the food comes. Then they start talking. Like it's impolite, even unthinkable to eat in silence. It's like eating has to happen as part of a social scene."

"I've noticed that," I say.

"So the food comes," my friend goes on, "and people start in with the 'What do you do?' If I want to talk, I tell them I'm a writer. That gets 'em going. Nearly everyone in America is a writer and is longing to talk about it. But sometimes I don't want to talk to a stranger. If that's how I'm feeling when the person asks me what I do, I say I'm a poet. A deathly hush comes over the trays and I'm left completely to my own resources. Ha! No one wants to talk to a poet."


"Who could imagine Buffalo, Wyoming, so harsh, austere, and distant, being full of metaphor- even wisdom? Thoreau could have and so can David Romtvedt. The view from his sheepwagon is as clear and bracing as it was from Thoreau's shack at Walden. Romtvedt takes us deep into the life os his adopted hometown: winter, ranching, the wonderful history and character of the Basque immigrants, and gives us a fine tour. In a culture gone bonkers with money, he shows us something of what it means to be a sane and decent man."
- Bill Holm
author of Boxelder Bug Variations and Coming Home Crazy

"David Romtvedt writes attentively about learning to belong to a place, an experience that is becoming rare in our restless culture. Who better to cleanse our minds of the 'cowboyism' of the Old West than a vegetarian ranch hand with an abiding love for weather, windmills, and staying put on the land? These essays speak lyrically about the community formed at the intersection of self, family, place, spirit, and about the work required to keep it running."
- Alison Hawthorne Deming
author of Temporary Homelands: Essays on Nature, Spirit, and Place and Poems of the American West: A Columbia Anthology