Check it out: Break from the drizzle in ‘Crooked River’ essays



Maybe it’s the lack of sunshine we’ve been experiencing, or my Southwest upbringing, but I am drawn to books about arid places.

I spent most of my formative years in Boulder City, a small town in southern Nevada known as the “Home of Hoover Dam,” and when I first moved to the Northwest, the lushness completely overwhelmed me.

Seventeen years later, I marvel at how fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful place.

Yet, yet … I do miss the desert: the miles of open space, the starkness juxtaposed against delicate wildflowers and brilliant sunsets, the feeling of being able to breathe more freely.

If you appreciate the drier climes, especially the high desert of Central Oregon, Ellen Waterston’s collection of personal essays will speak to you as it spoke to me.

While I am not as familiar with Oregon’s high desert as I am the Southwest’s desert lands, there are many similarities, and Waterston’s poetic descriptions of life as a rancher convey both the beauty and difficulty of residing in such solitary areas.

This is a good read for anyone feeling a bit web-footed these days.

Jan Johnston is the collection development coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at She blogs at