Gretel Ehrlich


Gretel Ehrlich is the author of fifteen books, including The Solace of Open Spaces, a record of her first years living on the Wyoming range, cowboying, and herding sheep; and A Match to the Heart, a memoir about being hit by lightning on her ranch. Her most recent book, Facing the Wave, received the PEN Award for Nonfiction and was nominated for the National Book Award. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, three National Geographic Expedition grants, and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Ehrlich has traveled by dogsled with subsistence Inuit hunters at the top of Greenland for twenty years, and as a result has written extensively about climate change.

The frail houses, shacks, and tents I’ve lived in have been more home than any house, and I’ve loved them all: canvas-wall tents fitted with foldable woodstoves; backpackers’ tents, easy to put up, take down, and lightweight; tipis of sewn-together reindeer skins, raised on poles; or sheep wagons that can be pulled from place to place, ship tight and simple with a rounded top. Or a bivy sac perched on the ledge of a vast mountain.

Home is the horse I rode fifteen hundred miles a year, the cow dogs who traveled alongside, slept with me, and for whom I cooked scrambled eggs, elk steaks, and buttered toast. Or the sled pulled by three reindeer across the melting tundra of the Russian Arctic, or the Greenland sled dogs that often saved our lives.

Home is anywhere I’ve taken the time to notice. Where there is no “I.” It shouldn’t be called a sense of place, but a flat-out, intimate sensorium where Emerson’s dictum suddenly makes sense: “I am nothing. I see all.”


Some of my favorite people on earth are in this book,
Dear writers and grand spirits.

Annie Dillard