North Routt guest ranch owner publishes book of poetry
September 22, 2012
Steamboat Springs — It was the late 1970s when Ann and Stephen Stranahan first laid eyes on it.
Six hundred acres of pristine North Routt wilderness was blanketed in deep snow, and it was perfect for the future site of the working agricultural and guest ranch they would call The Home Ranch.
But first, they skied it.
"We skimmed white meadows that might grow our hay, flew over fences that would keep the cows out, slid down to the creek to consider the trout, caught in a wide net of ice," Ann Stranahan wrote in poem about that love-at-first-sight affair with the land.
Today, the ranch encompasses 4,000 acres, and on Friday, Stranahan wandered the picturesque property with an awe and pride that likely is close to the feeling she had that day more than 30 years ago.
Stranahan spends every summer and a few weeks in the winter at the ranch, a prestigious Relais & Châteaux resort property, where her presence offers a matronly feel to the intimate setting.
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But those early days on the ranch, and several other poignant moments of Stranahan's life in the late 1970s through today, have been immortalized in prose in her poetry book, "Window on the River," which includes that ode to North Routt called "Inspecting the Property."
A lifelong writer, Stranahan released the collection, her first publication, in November.
She will offer a reading and signing at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore.
Initially an English major at Smith College, Stranahan became interested in art history after studying in Italy. But years later, she would return to school in Ohio to earn a master's degree in creative writing. At her home in Toledo, she began to share her work through readings several years ago. It was then she decided to finish what she had started.
"This was the first thing I did well; it's the thing I do best," Stranahan said about poetry. "So, let's go back to it. Some people put it away, that first thing they loved."
This summer, Stranahan said, she began attending Steamboat Springs Writers Group meetings while she worked on her next project. There, she said, the support of fellow North Routt ranch woman Mary Kurtz, among others, has been inspiring.
Kurtz said the two support each another.
"Aside from it being just incredibly well done, her rhythm and pace and lyricism and the sentiment that's communicated in her poetry is something else," Kurtz said about Stranahan's work. "And she does speak about the local area and love of North Routt and the natural world."
For Stranahan, writing poetry is an intrinsic desire, sometimes causing her to pull over her car to complete a verse.
"I never said, 'I am going to be a poet,'" Stranahan said.
But poetry is a release.
"I get very obsessive," she said. "The initial image usually comes as a line, and once I get going, once I'm in the grip, it just stays there. It's like having a song stuck in your head."
She writes about deeply personal experiences, like the death of family members and her experience working with Hmong refugee women in Ohio in which she couldn't communicate verbally with the women she was trying to help. But they spoke through what Stranahan called "heart language."
She said she hopes her words resonate with the readers through the most basic human commonalities, experiences like missing your father or being a mother — those are universal.
"They're about family," she said about her poems. "And all families are the same on some level."
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com
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