Welcome to Windbreak House.
Celebrating 20 Years of Writing Retreats! (1996 - 2016)
In the center of the nation, deep in the grasslands of western South Dakota, essayist and poet Linda M. Hasselstrom grew up as an only child on a family cattle ranch homesteaded by a Swedish cobbler in 1899.
Today she invites you to benefit from a writing retreat on that same ranch. Come to the house where she discovered the Great Plains outside her windows, where she began to write the poetry and non-fiction books that have established her as one of the strongest voices on behalf of the prairie.
Linda holds a BA in English and Journalism, an MA in American Literature, and has been a teacher of writing for more than 45 years. She has hosted writing retreats at her ranch since 1996.
Not a writer but a reader? Enjoy Linda's vivid descriptions of her life and work on the ranch, as a writer, and as an advocate for the preservation of the prairies and the people and wildlife who inhabit them.
Meet Linda on Youtube
For a brief introduction to Linda, her ranching life, her books, and the writing retreats, watch this Two-Minute Summary on Youtube
. You've read her words-- now hear her voice and see some images of the ranch and the writing retreat.
What's Happening at Windbreak House?
--- Write around Nature's calendar.
The Wheel of the Year: A Writer's Workbook
nonfiction, 2015, Red Dashboard Press
$22.95 -- paper
The Wheel of the Year
is structured with sixteen essays, one for each of the eight seasons through two years, with an intermission essay, “Respect Writing By Not Writing,” which discusses taking time off. Extensive writing suggestions are included, as well as additional resources. The workbook is intended as a guide and teacher as a writer sets up her own schedule of writing and develops a relationship with the natural and mundane worlds in which we live. If the reader came to a retreat at my Windbreak House Retreats, this might be a series of conversations we would have about writing.
All About the Book
--- Read some behind-the-scenes details about this book: Q&A with Linda, notes about content, information on the book jacket photo, and more.
Click here to go to The Wheel of the Year webpage.
If you would like to purchase an autographed copy from me, please send a check or money order for $28 to:
Linda M. Hasselstrom
PO Box 169
Hermosa SD 57744
Let me know if you would like me to personalize a message along with my signature.
The $28 covers media mail shipping & handling within the USA and any applicable sales tax.
New Season of Writing Retreats!
I'm keeping busy with online Writing Conversations by eMail and have already scheduled a number writing retreats and a poetry workshop for the spring of 2016.
If you would like to spend some time writing at Windbreak House see the Retreats Page
for the list of available retreat dates in 2016 and all the details you need to know about applying for a writing retreat (working with me) or a solitary retreat for some peaceful writing and time to think.
Susan wrote a blog about her January, 2016 writing retreat-- you'll get a few writing tips while you enjoy reading about her experience.
If you can't take a retreat holiday because your time or your budget is tight, we can still have some productive writing fun together online. See the Online Writing Help Page
for complete details on how to sign up for a Writing Conversation by eMail.
New Youtube Video!
In honor of National Poetry Month, and specifically National Cowboy Poetry Week (April 17th through the 23rd), I recorded some stories and readings as a tribute to Badger Clark, South Dakota's first Poet Laureate. I was inspired by a number of writers and poets during my childhood-- notably Mari Sandoz and Badger Clark, who each wrote about the west that I knew from my life on the ranch.
See my video about Badger Clark's poem "The Legend of Boastful Bill" here on Youtube
New Blog Posts!
My WordPress blog "Notes from a Western Life."
Come on over and sign up for a subscription.
Though I've discontinued my Home Page Messages, I've set up a new WordPress blog (with the help of my web-wrangler) because it gives me more options than the blog on this website, including the ability to post more photos, the ability to link with social media across the web, and a subscription service that sends a dandy version of the blog directly to your email inbox. Try it out.
New blogs posted in March and April
"Poetry in the Schools" -- posted March 11th
I was helped by many teachers during my school days; I recently returned the favor by making a school visit and by judging a preliminary round of a Poetry Out Loud contest.
My school stories are found on my WordPress blog
"Feeding South Dakota: Empty Bowls" -- posted March 17th
You can get involved in helping your community in many ways. This March in the Rapid City area we are fighting hunger through an Empty Bowls event to benefit the BackPack Program which helps feed children by sending meals home for the weekend when school lunches aren't available.
Learn about Empty Bowls and see my bowl at my WordPress blog
"Rendezvous Stories: Liberating Buckskinners" -- posted March 25th
Another in the series of Rendezvous stories from my days of camping with my husband George at mountain man re-enactment camps. In this story I discuss women's liberation with some-- shall we say-- old fashioned men.
You'll find the Rendezvous story here
"Book Remarks: There Used To Be A Guy But He Died" -- posted April 9th
Alan Wilkinson has written a couple of darn good books about his travels to the USA. There Used To Be A Guy . . . But He Died
follows his bike trip across Nebraska, while Red House on the Niobrara
tells the story of his stay in a Nebraska cabin while he studies the country that helped shape the author Mari Sandoz.
Read my comments about these books here
Because it is time-consuming to update two blogs, I am phasing out the blog on this website to concentrate on my WordPress site. However, many older blogs are available on the Blog Page of this website which you may access by clicking here
In 2015 some of my writing appeared in various periodicals and books,
In "Writers on the Range," syndicated by High Country News ---
February 4, 2015, "Let’s talk about the 'Z' word"
An opinion piece where I discuss the need to plan for a responsible future. Read it here
and then consider subscribing to High Country News
to support their important and well-done journalism about the West.
In South Dakota Magazine ---
In the May/June issue, "Letters to Graduates"
My letter was one of a number chosen for publication. I wrote about my expectations for my life as I was graduating college, how I have accomplished some of my goals, and how I have come to believe that, as my father used to quote, "a man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be."
In the July/August issue, "Saving South Dakota's Birds of Prey: The Black Hills Raptor Center"
One of my favorite local non-profits, the Black Hills Raptor Center is in the process of expanding their mission of education of the public and rehabilitation of raptors and owls by building a new facility. I hope my article will bring them more publicity and donations. Chip in a little to help the birds, if you are so inclined.
See their website at BlackHillsRaptorCenter.org
* * *
Take some time to enjoy the outdoors.
The Retreat House offers plenty of chairs and tables in the yard. Cushions are stored in the living room closet so you can make yourself comfortable.
A spring day at the Writing Retreat: the first thing you notice is the early morning glow changing from pink to yellow as the sun tops the rolling pasture hills far to the east.
Sip your morning brew at one of the outdoor spots in the yard as you plan your day and listen to the birds— the clear notes of a dozen meadowlarks blend into a complicated medley; a flock of red-winged blackbirds in the top of a cottonwood sound like a playground full of rusty swings before they disperse for the day; that jungle-like coo-COO-coo
comes from a collared dove, a recent invader from Eurasia that now competes with the native mourning dove; and a lone robin chuckles and chirrups in the juniper windbreak, as happy in the country as it is on a suburban lawn.
Then head back inside the retreat house rejuvenated and ready for the words to flow from your fingers. Later in the day it’s time for your meeting with Linda to discuss your project, ask questions, trade reading recommendations and share writing stories.
To balance your time spent sitting and writing, take a few minutes each day to appreciate this unique grasslands ecosystem. Stroll around the ranch yard or hike one of the ranch trails. You might see one or two cows babysitting a group of calves while the other mamas are grazing. Perhaps a red-tailed hawk will swoop to the ground and rise with a vole or snake clutched in its talons. Or maybe a flash of white will catch your eye and a pronghorn doe with twin fawns will suddenly be apparent on that empty hillside. Borrow one of the field guides from the retreat house to identify the plants underfoot. Search the ground for that perfect rock—be it a white crystal, a flat plate of dark red, or a chunk of yellow limestone—to take home and use as a paperweight or tuck into your flower garden to remind you of your time at Windbreak House Writing Retreats.
The retreat house is comfortable in any weather: it has a sturdy propane furnace for the cold months and has many electric fans for the dog days of summer. Out in the country the air always cools down at night, even after a scorching summer day, so the windows can be opened in the evening as "country air-conditioning." Despite the sunny warm days of fall, at night you'll be glad for the cozy quilts and blankets on each bed, and the fuzzy lap robes and throws on the couch and chairs.
If you can't make the drive to my prairie ranch, we can still work on your writing together through a Writing Conversation by eMail.
* * *
Here are some suggestions for exercising at Homestead House during your retreat:
Use the large open space in the living room or in Meadowlark bedroom for a mini gym or yoga studio.
Homestead House is far from other houses or roads and the yard is surrounded by windbreak trees and bushes, so you can exercise in privacy outside.
Run or walk on the relatively flat gravel driveways.
Hike on one of the primitive dirt roads used occasionally by ranch vehicles.
Follow some of the narrow dirt cow trails that usually run between the corrals, good grazing and a water source.
Or just set off across the pasture on your way to the top of that hill, or to the clump of trees, rock outcropping, or the stock dam you can see in the distance.
Ask to see the Homestead House binder with hiking suggestions. Walking sticks are kept at the kitchen door or in the living room closet. Let us know if you'd like a hiking partner. Linda's assistant Tam, and her large friendly dog Rue, are usually willing and able to accompany you if you'd prefer not to hike alone.
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Connect with Windbreak House on Facebook and with my WordPress Blog.
If you "Like" me on this Facebook page you'll get notifications of my newly-posted blogs as well as announcements about my books, writing retreats, and other events to do with Windbreak House.
No kitten videos, but I post Stories from the Writing Retreat and various other writing-related photos, announcements, book reviews, and the occasional joke. You can ask questions and exchange comments with me and other readers of the postings.
You can sign up to follow my WordPress Blog "Notes from a Western Life" here:
Once you've subscribed you will receive the blog in your email, complete with photos. The WordPress blog has the exact same content as the blog on this website, but WordPress allows me to post more photos throughout each entry.
And as a bonus, WordPress does not require you to decipher some squiggly words in order to post a comment. The first time you post a comment you must be approved by me (I know you won't deluge me with annoying spam about sunglasses and other products), but after that you are allowed to comment freely.
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