Rose Perlmutter has spent a lifetime pursuing adventure and peace in the outdoors. In this memoir, she uses her nature lens to examine the stages of that life. Poignant, humorous, and snarky chapters deal with belonging, parenting, Women’s Lib, body image, outdoor snobbery, death, and even sex.
The seductions of childhood continue to old age. Lured by the outdoor exploits of her childhood friends, Tom, Huck Finn, and Heidi, Perlmutter has spent seven decades following her own passions for nature and adventure. From childhood adventures in the dark basements of her apartment house to adult adventures in mountain meadows, Perlmutter dragged her family on nature adventures. One day in California, when Perlmutter was in her late forties, her family was sitting at a resort pool in Lake Tahoe recovering from another adventure. When he finished sulking, her husband spoke, “Rose, this is the time for Woman’s Lib,” he said. “Women are finding themselves. You should be searching for what makes you happy too. I support you totally. If you want to play in the woods, I will be delighted to drive you to the airport, carry your bag, cook for myself and the kids, wash and iron their clothes, vacuum and mop the floors. But please, whatever you do, don’t ever ask me to go on another nature adventure with you as long as we live.”
And so, Perlmutter, in spite of her fears of heights, bats, rats, bugs, snakes, open spaces, queen bees, tan people, skinny people, long-legged people, unfriendly people, and “real authentic green people, set out for Audubon Society Ecology Camps in Maine, Wyoming and Minnesota. On those adventures she racked up “Most Memorable Awards” with superlatives like “last, slowest, and most likely to get lost.”
Undaunted, she returned to the suburbs and in her senior years, Perlmutter persevered in her quest for the peace and solitude of the wild as a respite from a life of shrieking and worrying. For example, not so long ago, at a teacher workshop in a, a younger teacher offered the only remaining chair to Perlmutter, who politely declined. Sweetly and loudly the younger teacher said, “Oh no Rose, I could never sit when an older person stands. In my culture we are taught to respect old people.”
When Rose came home that night, she told her husband very clearly. “Take me to the cows please. I need cows.” “Take me to the cows is couples talk for “I have had a rotten day, and if you don’t take me for a ride in the country and soon, I am going to eat crackers, cheese, wine, potato chips, chocolate chip cookies, leftover scampi with rice and that jar of peanut butter.”
On their suburban deck, as her husband grills steaks, drinks wine, and adds up the money he is saving by not going to a restaurant, Perlmutter remembers the mountain man of her dreams. Ah, mountains! In the mountains of Wyoming, there’s a trail named “Rose’s Trail.” Never let it be said that Perlmutter didn’t leave her mark on the American West. The trail is about forty-eight and one half inches wide, and if it hasn’t rained, it’s probably still there. You might want to visit that trail after you read Perlmutter’s book.