The Wheel of the Year: A Writer's Workbook
by Linda Hasselstrom

Red Dashboard LLC Publications, 2015. ISBN 978-0-996-64500-3.
Reviewed by Trilla Pando
Posted on 01/21/2016

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Nature/Place/Environment

I stuck some seeds in my pocket before this morning's walk. When I saw a lonely place, I tossed a few across. I'll never know if they will take root, but I know that I put them there. Unusual behavior for a city dweller? Yes, and I thank Linda Hasselstrom and The Wheel of the Year: A Writer's Workbook for my inspiration.

As a devoted urbanite, I thought that likely this book's emphasis on nature as an inspiration for writing did not apply to me. Wrong. As I read through the book I became, as the author had predicted would, aware of the presence of nature right here on my busy city street with thundering cars and trucks serenading me around the clock. There are the plants in my pot garden, the doves and crows perched on the wires that crisscross my streets, and I can stretch a bit and go to a nearby park or just hit the seed rack at the supermarket, hence my morning walk's seed flinging.

As the title indicates, the seventeen essays in this book move through the year by season. Not merely through the four familiar seasons of winter, spring, summer, and autumn, but rather through the eight of the Celtic and other traditions. Plus there is a refreshing intermission essay between the two rotations.

The book commences when, winter-weary, we begin to anticipate spring even as we know cold months still lie ahead. It commemorates February 2 as the turning day between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. I've always looked to that whimsical ground hog to come out on a day so dark she can't see her shadow early that morning. There's more. Hasselstrom introduced me to Brigid, whose day is commemorated on that same February 2. To the Celts, Brigid is the young maiden who as the days grow longer gathers power from the sun. Brigid's tale offers a great introduction to the many and varied ways the world's people regard and respect the changing seasons.

But a reader doesn't have to wait for Brigid or the rascally rodent. She can take her calendar and flip the pages. Anywhere it lands she can begin, or take a look at the current date and then pick up The Wheel of the Year and go to work. I found, though, that it is more play than work, for author Linda Hasselstrom makes it fun to work with words.

"To write is to search for understanding," Hasselstrom explains early on, and each essay is both a keyed-to-the-season meditation on writing and more. The associated writing discussions and prompts will leave even the most silent reader reaching for her pen or heading for the computer.

Linda Hasselstrom is the author of many books of nonfiction and poetry. Her best-known book is the ever popular Windbreak: A Woman Rancher on the Northern Plains. A native of Texas, Hasselstrom grew up in South Dakota. A former teacher, she now lives on the family ranch where she has converted the ranch house to Windbreak House Retreats. Learn more about her and the retreat house on her website or meet her in person on YouTube.

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