Married Into It
by Patricia Frolander

High Plains Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-931-27196-0.
Reviewed by Doris Anne Roop-Benner
Posted on 07/29/2011


Frolander was born and raised in cities and was not prepared for the challenges of living in a generational ranching community. She found out that it takes a great deal of time and commitment to become a bona fide rancher and Frolander hopes that after forty-two years she has earned her spurs.

Her lifestyle wouldn't suit everyone. The job is physically demanding, the stewardship of natural resources is a must, and no matter how hard or how smart you work it's the unseen forces that control the outcome. She gets a lot of "men don't like women in their business" and "women sit and eat after the men are done." Women ranchers are treated like workers on "his ranch." They do it all—take care of ranch chores, house chores, bookkeeping, and mothering of their children and their animal's offspring. Then the wife dies and people ask the man what he'll do without her and he says "I can manage without her—just like I always have."

Frolander got through the hard times by writing poetry. Her poems give us a brief look into the forty-nine year partnership she's had with her husband and the ranch they cherish. I enjoyed learning about a way of life that I had never even thought about being a part of. She gave me another reason to applaud those women who survive in a man's world.

I think this poem gives us some insight into her fighting spirit.

Wringer Washer

Rural Wyoming, twelve degrees.

I bucket hot water outside to the washing machine,
More to the rinse tubs, and complain.
Weeks before, in Colorado suburbia, my clothes
Washed and dried in automatic appliances.

The bunkhouse I now call home has four rooms
For three children, a dog, and an old wood stove.
Diapers freeze as I pin them to the clothesline.
My mother-in-law predicts:
"You won't last a year."

I grit my teeth and fill another bucket.

Patricia Frolander's first book, Grassland Genealogy, was published in 2009. Her poetry has been widely published in numerous anthologies, and she has been featured in journals, magazines, and newspapers. Patricia was the recipient of the 2011 Neltje Blanchan Award through the Wyoming Arts Council. She lives in the Black Hills of Wyoming with her husband and tries to balance family, ranching, and writing. Visit her website.

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